NewEnergyNews: 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009/


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

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008


    The 2008 post that best described what is possible across the New Energy spectrum is this year's "Most Important Post" Runner-Up, OBAMA, GORE, GREENPEACE – HOW LONG WILL THIS BE GOIN’ ON? It summarized ideas from Al Gore’s Repower America, Greenpeace’s Energy [R]Evolution and the Obama-Biden New Energy for America plan. Taken together, these reports conclusively demonstrate New Energy’s immense potential.

    New Energy’s potential, however, is not really news. Among the reports on which NewEnergyNews posted this year, the one from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) affirming the wind industry’s certain readiness to provide 20% of U.S. power by 2030 was surely the most concrete and, thereby, award-winning subject matter.

    2008’s "Most Important Post" recognition, therefore, goes to
    WIND: YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET! The DOE report stands as a landmark in the history of the wind energy industry and in the history of U.S. New Energy.

    These reports are vivid proof a New Energy future is more than possible, it is undeniable.

    Conclusion: There’s a lot to look forward to in 2009.

    2008 "Most Important Post" #1: WIND: YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!

    Originally posted May 13: Riding the momentum of unprecedented, record-setting growth, the wind energy industry is said to be ready - in 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply, a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) - to provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030. DOE expects the wind industry to triple in capacity yearly for the next quarter century.

    Andy Karsner, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE: “The United States is currently on a pace to surpass Germany within the next 24 months and restore it to what I think is the rightful place as the world’s renewable energy leader in new energy installations…”

    The report is a landmark for the New Energy industries because it represents recognition of wind energy as a viable mainstream energy source and a recognition of the unique value wind and the other New Energies bring to the U.S. energy mix. No less an energy establishment representative than a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) member said as much.

    Suedeen Kelly, FERC Commissioner: “We must look at meeting future electric demands in a cost-effective way…The 20% wind scenario would only cost 2 percent more than the cost of the baseline scenario without wind. At 50 cents per month for the average ratepayer, that is a small price to pay for the climate, water, natural gas, and energy security benefits it would buy--and it does not even count the stability provided to consumers by eliminating fuel price risk.”

    Both in the DOE report and at the press conference announcing the study, the subject of new transmission necessary to deliver the new wind energy was pivotal.
    (See NewEnergyNews' essay on transmission: GRIDLOCK?) Commissioner Kelly described what is necessary as “…an interstate transmission superhighway system.”

    The power industry sees things the same way and is ready to move. Tony Kavanaugh, VP, American Electric Power: “…we cannot expect business as usual to be sufficient. We are looking to craft, in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, a different vision of how we move transmission infrastructure construction and development forward in this country and I think the nation is ready for that, I think the electric industry is ready for that, we’re hearing from the policy community that they’re ready for that.”

    DOE has made a comprehensive evaluation and says 20% can be done. (from the report - click to enlarge)

    Kevin Kolevar, Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, DOE: "The report correctly highlights that greater penetration of renewable sources of energy - such as wind - into our electric grid will have to be paired with not only advanced integration technologies but also new transmission…In many cases, the most robust sources of renewable resources are located in remote areas, and if we want to be able to deliver these new clean and abundant sources of energy to population centers, we will need additional transmission."

    The power generation sector has affirmed wind energy’s maturity with its money, buying or partnering on wind installations all across the country. All it asks for in return is new transmission.

    Mike Heyeck, Senior VP, AEP Transmission: “…we believe the 20 percent wind scenario is feasible, but only with a major national transmission highway system. Delivering power from the best windy regions to the growing urban supply requires a bigger, stronger transmission system. Strong regional and interregional planning as well as broad allocation of costs will allow the United States to rely on a broader diversity of generation resources…"

    This is what the wind industry is going to do. (from the report - click to enlarge)

    Turns out even the oil industry is interested in wind.

    Bob Lukefahr, President, Power Americas/BP Alternative Energy North America: “Wind is an important part of BP Alternative Energy’s business and of BP’s diverse energy portfolio…”

    Typical of the wind industry’s open-eyed, honest, forward-thinking approach to growth, it is not turning away from the challenges highlighted in the DOE report – or the value it brings to the effort to overcome them.

    Randall Swisher, Executive Director, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): “The report identifies the central constraints to achieving 20% - transmission, siting, manufacturing and technology - and demonstrates how each can be overcome. As an inexhaustible domestic resource, wind strengthens our energy security, improves the quality of the air we breathe, slows climate change, and revitalizes rural communities.”

    Or, as Andy Karsner of DOE put it, “…wind energy is helping us secure a better future for my kids and yours…”

    This is how it is going to do it. (from the report - click to enlarge)

    Major New Technical Report Finds Wind Can Provide 20% Of U.S. Electricity Needs By 2030; U.S. Department of Energy Analysis Finds That Wind Can Be Major Contributor to Energy Mix
    May 12, 2008 (American Wind Energy Association)

    Andy Karsner, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE;
    Randall Swisher, Executive Director, AWEA; Tony Kavanaugh, VP/Governmental Affairs, American Electric Power; Suedeen Kelly, FERC Commissioner; Kevin Kolevar, Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, DOE; Mike Heyeck, Senior VP, AEP Transmission; Bob Lukefahr, President, Power Americas/BP Alternative Energy North America

    20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply

    - To get to 20% by 2030, according to the study, new wind installations would need to reach 16,000 megawatts/year by 2018 and sustain that rate of growth through 2030.
    - 2006: President Bush, for the first time, said “wind energy” in his state-of-the-union address, pointing the way to the 20% goal.
    - 2007: Wind was 2nd only to the natural gas industry in building new power generation for the 3rd year in a row.
    - 2008 (1st quarter): 1,400 megawatts ($3 billion) of new generating capacity.

    New Energy will need new transmission. (from the report - click to enlarge)

    - The key to wind’s implementation is the building of adequate transmission. Press conference participants suggested that regional groups in New England, the west and Texas are driving the development of new transmission in service to their goals of New Energy and greenhouse gas reduction.
    - The 2nd most important challenge left to be conquered is wind’s variability, something that can be managed by adequate transmission, an adequately smart grid and/or breakthroughs in wind storage technology.
    - Appropriately siting wind installations is a crucial consideration in the industry’s expansion.

    (from the report - click to enlarge)

    - The DOE report includes an evaluation of (1) U.S. manufacturing capabilities, (2) current U.S. technology, (2) anticipated energy costs, (3) U.S. wind energy resources, (4) wind energy environmental impact limits and factors, and (5) the economics of wind energy.
    - According to the report, getting 20% of U.S. electricity from wind would (1) cut power generation CO2 25% in 2030, (2) cut U.S. natural gas consumption 11% (driving the price down), (3) cut 4 trillion gallons from power production water use by 2030, (4) bring $1.5 billion to local communites where wind would be built by 2030, and (5) add a half million jobs to the economy, including 150,000+ in the wind industry and many more in the manufacturing supply chain.

    (from the report - click to enlarge)

    - Andy Karsner, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE: "DOE's wind report is a thorough look at America's wind resource, its industrial capabilities, and future energy prices, and confirms the viability and commercial maturity of wind as a major contributor to America's energy needs, now and in the future…To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary, and will require us to take a comprehensive approach to scaling renewable wind power, streamlining siting and permitting processes, and expanding the domestic wind manufacturing base."
    - Randall Swisher, Executive Director, AWEA: “The report shows that wind power can provide 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030, and be a critical part of the solution to global warming…”

    2008 "Most Important Post" Runner-Up: OBAMA, GORE, GREENPEACE – HOW LONG WILL THIS BE GOIN’ ON?

    Originally posted November 26: 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 of 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."

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008


    Today NewEnergyNews features its picks for 2008’s 3rd, 4th and 5th most important posts. (Numbers 1 & 2 will come tomorrow.)

    In 2008's "Most Important Post" #5,
    IT’S FOR SUN, IT’S FOR WIND, IT’S SUPERGRID!, the announcement of the long-discussed and yet-to-be-built European Supergrid that will link the entire continent's power supply and create pathways for the delivery of Middle East and North African solar energy-generated electricity to EU nations was reported. The announcement of its actual operation will no doubt be the most important story of whatever year that comes in. More below.

    Ever since T. Boone Pickens kicked off a nearly $60 million public relations campaign to sell his Pickens Plan promoting wind power and natural gas, the media has been fawning. 2008's "Most Important Post" #4,
    TOP SCIENTIST NOTES BIG GOOD, BIG BAD IN THE PICKENS PLAN, reported on the authoritative conclusions of a U.S. Department of Energy-affiliated scientist who saw both good and bad in the plan.

    Early in the summer the sun shone forth when
    SOLAR CAN BE 10% OF U.S. ELECTRICITY BY 2025, 2008's "Most Important Post" #3, reported on Clean Edge’s Utility Solar Assessment Study finding feasible the still-not-mature technology’s ability to provide 10% of U.S. electricity by 2025. Though 10% is little more than a hint of solar energy’s real potential, the report is its biggest news to date.

    Despite the financial crisis, all these big plans continue to move forward, promising much more New Energy excitement in coming years.

    2008 "Most Important Post" #3: SOLAR CAN BE 10% OF U.S. ELECTRICITY BY 2025

    Originally posted June 23: Naming utilities, solar energy industry professionals and power system regulators as the key players, a new report from Clean Edge and Co-op America identifies roles for each in making solar energy 10% of U.S. power over the next 2 decades.

    Utilities must begin by incorporating solar energy as a way to smooth peak demand, include it into all smart grid renovations and develop business models that incorporate it.

    The solar energy industry must bring costs down ($3/watt, peak) and make solar an easy, plug-and-play “appliance.”

    Regulators/policy makers must establish predictable, long-term incentives (investment and production tax credits), create open standards for interconnection and give utilities the right to incorporate solar into their base generation at "base" rates.

    The report predicts 8% will come from distributed PV systems and 2% from solar power plants.

    Must happen: (1)Economies of scale drive solar power costs down 18% every time global capacity doubles; (2) the rising cost of greenhouse gas emissions drives fossil fuel prices up 3%/year.

    Most of the 10% achievement will come after 2015 when solar will still be 1% of U.S. generation but when solar energy-generated electricity will become price competitive with the traditional fossil fuels serving the grid.

    Costs to achieve 10% by 2025: $450 billion to $560 billion, an average of $26 billion to $33 billion/year. Too expensive? Absolutely NOT. Utilities spent ~$70 billion on new power plants, transmission and distribution systems in 2007.

    The Full Report:
    Utiltity Solar Assessment (USA) Study; Reaching Ten Percent Solar By 2025

    (From Clean Edge - click to enlarge)

    Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study
    June 17, 2008 (Clean Edge)
    Solar energy cost may rival other forms soon, study says; Sun-generated power may be 10% of U.S. use by 2025
    Matt Nauman, June 18, 2008 (San Jose Mercury News)

    Clean Edge (Ron Pernick, managing director/co-author; Clint Wilder, contributing editor/ co-author); Co-op America; utilities, solar energy industry professionals, and power system regulators;

    Utiltity Solar Assessment (USA) Study; Reaching Ten Percent Solar By 2025 offers an informed roadmap to utilities, the solar energy industry, and power system regulators for obtaining 10% of U.S. power from solar energy by 2025.

    (From Clean Edge - click to enlarge)

    - 2015: A broad consensus of energy experts expects solar energy to achieve price parity with traditional sources of electric power.
    - 2018: The report calls for soalr energy price to be at least down to $3/watt, peak.
    - 2025: Solar energy could provide 10% of U.SD. electricity.
    - Solar costs (averaged):
    (1) Present - $5.50 to $7.00/watt, peak/15-32 cents kWh
    (2) 2015 - $3.02 to $3.82 watt, peak/8-18 cents kWh
    (3) 2025 - $1.43 to $1.82 watt, peak/4-8 cents kWh

    - U.S. solar capacity (0.1% of U.S. power) presently lags far behind Japan, Germany and Spain because those countries have had reliable, long-term federal incentives.
    - U.S. southwestern desert areas are widely assessed to have insolation enough to power the entire country if solar power plants, storage capacity and transmission were available.
    - Study based on interviews with 30+ experts and proprietary Clean Edge data (on solar PV market size, cost/price history/projections, other market factors).

    - The report describes utilities, the solar energy industry and power system regulators as the 3 key actors in achieving increased solar energy generation on the U.S. grid.
    - Grid parity by 2015 is based on 2 strong points: Decreasing solar costs due to economies of scale and increasing costs for traditional fossil fuels due to a rising cost for greenhouse gas emissions.
    - Advantages of solar energy: distributed generation less vulnerable to grid failures and central outages, quickly constructed, low maintenance installations, zero raw materials costs and zero emissions operation.

    (From Clean Edge - click to enlarge)

    - Clean Edge: “In just the past year, a number of utilities and solar companies have announced aggressive programs to deploy large-scale solar power projects, including Southern California Edison's plan to install 250 megawatts of distributed solar PV, Duke Energy's stated goal of investing $100 million in rooftop solar, and Pacific Gas & Electric's announcements to invest in thousands of megawatts of concentrating solar power in California's deserts…solar could become "ubiquitous" as with earlier semiconductor-based revolutions.
    - Alisa Gravitz, executive director, Co-op America: "Solar prices are falling as the solar industry scales…For the first time in history, cost-competitive solar power is now within the planning horizon of every utility…We are seeing the turning point for solar…This isn't a forecast; it's a fact."


    Originally posted September 9: Energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens’ energy plan, the one that has become a regular feature of TV’s commercial breaks this summer, proposes to end the U.S. addiction to oil. NewEnergyNews recently obtained a PowerPoint presentation from Brent P. Nelson, a veteran U.S. scientist in a top position at one of the Department of Energy (DOE)’s most important research laboratories, assessing the Pickens Plan.

    Nelson, who confidentially released the assessment on the condition it is understood to be his own expert opinion and not the official position of his therefore unnamed DOE lab, finds great benefit and great danger in Pickens’ proposals.

    The Pickens Plan has 2 parts, each involving a separate energy source. It would use wind energy as 20% of U.S. electricity and shift the natural gas the U.S. now uses for electricity to fuel compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

    The summary of the good points Nelson sees in the Pickens Plan: (1) Investing in the development of wind energy, (2) reducing the use of natural gas to generate electricity, (3) the acknowledgement by an oil man that “we can’t drill our way out,” and (4) the need for a U.S. national energy plan.

    The summary of the problems he has with it: (1) Using natural gas for transportation, (2) substituting drilling for oil with drilling for gas, and (3) using natural gas for transportation.

    The first lines NewEnergyNews posted about the plan were these,
    on July 12:

    “Here’s the thing: Oil explorer and corporate entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens is pointing in the right direction. He’s shaken a lot of oil industry fossil fools mired in 1950s thinking. He sees clearly what’s happening in wind and he’s all over it.

    “He’s had this obsession with Compressed Natural Gas cars for years and it still doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out. Natural gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) are more likely to be a bridge to an electric grid powered by New Energies from the wind, the sun and the ocean. Transportation is more likely to transition from nonfood crop- and algae-biofuels and plug-in hybrids to all electric vehicles.

    ”But Pickens deserves a lot of credit for stimulating debate. He got more people talking about New Energy in conservative, fossil fuel-oriented corners of the media world than anybody has since Al Gore.”

    Nelson’s take on Pickens’ plan differs primarily from NewEnergyNews' take in that he has run the numbers and sees a coming peak gas crisis that could be as dire and economically burdensome for the nation as the peak oil crisis the U.S. is passing through right now.

    Nelson: “Natural gas is our next crisis…we’ve already used ~1/2 of our domestic gas…”

    Nelson points out the unique value natural gas has as a heating fuel: “No other fuel can heat your home as cleanly or efficiently!!!” Using it as a vehicle fuel is squandering a dwindling resource that is “…precious for our children and grandchildren.”

    Like NewEnergyNews, Nelson sees the future of transportation coming from electric vehicles and sees the dwindling natural gas supplies as too precious to be squandered on electricity generation or transportation: “Natural gas, as a space-heating fuel, has almost no alternatives…”

    Because of his sense of urgency about the need to preserve natural gas supplies, Nelson describes the natural gas dimension of Pickens’ plan as "immoral."

    As the election season gathers momentum and the fall TV viewing season arrives, it may be hard to distinguish among the kinds of immorality trumpeted during the commercial breaks that shoulder aside T. Boone's diatribes. Nelson's conclusions about the Pickens Plan are worth keeping in mind. They show how a TV spot or an energy plan can have both some truth and something more insidious.

    The Pickens Plan (click to enlarge)

    Why T. Boone Pickens’ Energy Plan Is Seriously Flawed
    Brent P. Nelson, August 6, 2008 (PowerPoint Presentation)

    Brent P. Nelson, veteran research scientist, top national laboratory; T. Boone Pickens, energy entrepreneur/author, The Pickens Plan; The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

    Nelson offers a unique and powerful assessment of what is good and what is bad about Boone Pickens’ widely heralded plan to (1) develop the wind energy resources of the Midwest to power the national electricity grid and (2) use U.S. natural gas resources as compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel for vehicles to (3) displace dependence on oil imports.

    From Nelson.

    - Pickens debuted his plan with much fanfare in July and continues to use his considerable wealth for media time to push his ideas to the public.
    - Nelson created his PowerPoint assessment of the Pickens Plan in August and it has just been passed to NewEnergyNews.
    - A DOE study released in Spring 2008 affirmed the practicality of the U.S. wind energy industry’s announced plan to provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030.

    - U.S.: Now obtains 1-to-2% of its electricity from wind energy.
    - U.S.: Now has approximately 150,000 CNG-fueled vehicles.
    - World: Now has 7-to-8 million CNG-fueled vehicles.

    - Pickens’ premises are that the U.S. spends $700 billion yearly to import oil, wind could replace most of the natural gas used to generate electricity and that gas could be used as CNG to fuel U.S. vehicles.
    - U.S. natural gas supplies: 20.5% to residential heating, 13.0% to commercial heating, 28.8% to industrial uses, 29.8% to electricity generation, 7.8% to gas fuels and 0.1% to fuel vehicles.
    - In the less hopeful evaluations, the U.S. may have only 23 years of natural gas reserves remaining. In the most optimistic evaluations, there could be almost a half-century of reserves (which is no volume on which to base an energy plan).
    - By Nelson's calculations, natural gas as source of supply for the electrical grid can be considered little more than a bridge to New Energy.
    - Carl Pope, veteran environmentalist and Executive Director of the Sierra Club, recently suggested CNG might be an interim solution for truck fuel.

    From Nelson. (click to enlarge)

    - Nelson, on why Pickens’ plan for the use of U.S. natural gas resources is “immoral”: “(1) Steals this precious and unique resource from future generations. (2) Accelerates our impending gas energy crisis. (3) Replaces our dependence on foreign oil with a dependence on foreign natural gas. (4) Delays our needed transition to transportation technologies not using liquid-fuels for moving people on the ground.”
    - Nelson’s “more rational plan”: “Decrease fossil fuels” and “Increase renewables: solar, wind, biodiesel, etc. and develop electric transportation”

    2008 "Most Important Post" #5: IT’S FOR SUN, IT’S FOR WIND, IT’S SUPERGRID!

    Originally posted November 16: The European Supergrid, long debated by the European Union states, was formally proposed – a day before an EU summit meeting with Russia in France, a reopening of talks on economic and energy cooperation. Coincidental timing?

    In the August confrontation over Georgia, the Russian Bear showed it will not hesitate to bare its teeth and claws when it wants dominance. Long uneasy with their dependence on Russia and the Middle East for the natural gas they use to power their grids, EU nations now see clearly they, too, can no longer hesitate but must lay plans to free themselves.

    Supergrid will maximize the EU’s capability of drawing on its own and non-Russian power sources. It starts with 3 steps: (1) Connect the power generation of the wind-rich North Sea and Baltic Sea regions; (2)Link grids in the Mediterranean region in preparation for shifting supplies from the wind-rich areas as well as, eventually, from the sun-rich areas of North Africa and the Middle East; (3) Develop new pipelines to bring in natural gas from the Caspian region (without transiting Russia) and Africa.

    The world's present economic circumstances make development of Supergrid less urgent because Russia needs so badly to sell its natural gas resources right now it is unlikely to use them as leverage in any strategic geopolitical gambit. On the other hand, present economic circumstances make the expansion of energy transmission infrastructure an ideal stimulus undertaking for the EU.

    The EU commitment to Supergrid is also good news for New Energy developers. Aside from relieving reliance on Russia for energy, the capacity to move wind- (or sun-)generated electricity around the continent means larger volumes can be delivered from where the wind is blowing (or where the sun is shining) and put to use where there is demand. Wind sources will thereby be everywhere more reliable.

    Nick Medic, spokesman, British Wind Energy Association: “The proposed North Sea grid means that if you have less wind in the British sector, you can access wind blowing off the German coast.”

    Who's for a North American Supergrid?

    Initially, Supergrid will move offshore wind-generated electricity all around Europe. (click to enlarge)

    Power supergrid plan to protect Europe from Russian threat to choke off energy
    David Charter, November 13, 2008 (UK Times)

    The European Commission (EC) of the European Union (EU)

    Now unequivocally aware of the need to escape dependence on Russian and Middle Eastern energy supplies, the EC’s Second Strategic Energy Review proposes Supergrid and a series of other measures to create a more secure energy supply.

    click to enlarge

    - In the winter of 2005-06 Russia cut gas supplies to Eastern European satellite nations, giving the first hint of their inclination to bully those who were dependent.
    - Supergrid was announced November 13 after years of discussions and proposals.
    - The proposals compliment the EU’s triple 20 targets of a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% increase in energy efficiency and obtaining 20% of its power from New Energy sources by 2020.
    - The confrontation w/Russia over Georgia in August

    - Supergrid will ultimately link all EU states.
    - The plan also calls for gas pipelines to Central Asia and Africa, a southern corridor pipeline to the Caspian region and a trans-Saharan pipe for gas from nations like Nigeria.
    - New, high voltage transmission will link the wind-rich North Sea/Baltic Sea nations from the UK to Scandinavia and including the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Eastern Europe. New transmission will also link EU Mediterranean nations and prepare them to transmit solar energy-generated electricity from North Africa and the Middle East.
    - Norway and Holland recently agreed to connect via an undersea cable so as to exchange Norway’s hydropower and Holland’s complimentary wind.

    - The defensive reason for the plan is Russia’s inclination to use energy as a lever.
    - There is also a general economic uncertainty to energy imports.
    - Europe imports 61% of its natural gas and without a change will import 73% by 2020.
    - Russia sells Europe 40% of that, including the entire supply of some EU states.
    to protect Europe’s energy from the threat of a Russian stranglehold
    - Gazprom, Russia’s national energy company, is already negotiating to buy up the natural gas supplies of the Caspian and African countries to which the EU would build its pipelines.
    - The EU’s long-term goal: Energy security through reliance on wind, solar, biogas and mixed-source natural gas supplies.
    - Analysts estimate the 2 gas pipelines will cost billions of pounds.
    - An EU-wide network will mean that wind power’s intermittency is virtually irrelevant.

    Eventually, Supergrid may carry solar energy-generated electrcity from N. Africa and the Middle East. (click to enlarge)

    - European Commission document: “[Europe must take] the first steps to break the cycle of increasing energy consumption, increasing imports, and increasing outflow of wealth created in the EU to pay energy producers… With respect to the EU, this is of most concern with respect to gas, where a number of member states are overwhelmingly dependent on one single supplier. Political incidents in supplier or transit countries, accidents or natural disasters . . . remind the EU of the vulnerability of its immediate energy supply.”
    - UK government spokeswoman: “We have been calling for the EU to do more on energy security. The idea of a supergrid could support the Government’s aim of developing offshore wind power and other renewables and implementing more interconnection between European electricity markets…”
    - EC draft document: “This work appears as a key element of the EU response to the current financial crisis and thus should be accelerated…”

    Monday, December 29, 2008


    In The Renew America Bond; A Blueprint for American Energy Renewal, John Floegel, president of Fishcreek Capital, describes the purpose behind his idea: “America needs a national mission: We must finally overcome our oil addiction, reinvigorate our industrial base and leave our country a better place for the next generation. We would accomplish this by issuing Renew America Bonds, the proceeds of which would be invested in, and returns from which would be linked to, the success of a rapid clean energy transformation. Broad ownership of Renew America Bonds among citizens would give every American a stake in the energy revolution, and an incentive to help the economic transition succeed…”

    During World War II, selling bonds was a patriotic duty proudly carried out by celebrities and leaders. Buying them was a patriotic investment made by citizens from Wall Street to the classroom and church pew. The bonds helped fund the greatest industrial mobilization in history, the mobilization that won the war and broke the stranglehold of the Great Depression on Western economies. Floegel believes his
    Renew America Bonds can do the same for the 21st century.

    It’s an imaginative solution, to be sure. But the situation, as Tom Friedman pointed out in his Sunday New York Times column, is both urgent and requires imagination. People are beginning to respond to low gas pump prices by once again buying big cars. This may satisfy individual ambitions but will do nothing to meet the nation’s real needs. Yet the policies that might interrupt this destructive response to short term circumstances, a gas tax or a carbon tax, are not politically likely in a floundering economy.

    Friedman, Win, Win, Win, Win, Win, NY Times: Of course, it’s a blessing that people who have been hammered by the economy are getting a break at the pump. But for our long-term health, getting re-addicted to oil and gas guzzlers is one of the dumbest things we could do…I believe the second biggest decision Barack Obama has to make — the first is deciding the size of the stimulus — is whether to increase the federal gasoline tax or impose an economy-wide carbon tax…[but] the Obama team has no intention of doing either at this time…Raising taxes in a recession is a no-no…”

    Friedman is probably right. Yet standing by and watching the nation go back to its affair with oil is exactly like watching a loved one return to an abusive relationship. It may be necessary, but only if every alternative is exhausted. Friedman says he’s out of alternatives.

    Friedman, Win, Win, Win, Win, Win: “…I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of ways to retool America around clean-power technologies without a price signal — i.e., a tax — and there are no effective ones. (Toughening energy-effiency regulations alone won’t do it.) Without a higher gas tax or carbon tax, Obama will lack the leverage to drive critical pieces of his foreign and domestic agendas…”

    He’s absolutely right. But if the electorate that chose Barack Obama rises to the occasion, Floegel’s Renew America bonds might just be a part of a workable alternative.

    Floegel, on the impact of his bonds: “Purchasing the bonds would be both an act of patriotism and of economic rationality. Productive investment of the bond proceeds would help fulfill our generational duty to leave this country, and the world, better than we found it.”

    It’s a really intriguing idea, especially in the current, credit-constrained economic circumstances. It is also something the nation has long lacked, a challenge that does not involve bombs and killing. Floegel imagines teachers leading their classrooms in bond drives, churches and communities taking up the cause and affluent citizens - prodded by celebrity sellers - seeing the bonds as a sensible place to put a portion of their money.

    Floegel: “America needs a cause, an uplifting and nonpartisan mission, which harnesses our courage, patriotism, innovation and willingness to sacrifice to build a better future for our children. We are tired of rote partisanship and long for a defining cause greater than consumerism. We are in awe of and inspired by the World War II generation and the Civil Rights crusaders that came together, sacrificed and defeated common enemies and left a legacy of pride and prosperity for their children and grandchildren…”

    The details of such a plan would be completely determinative. Floegel imagines the portfolio of investments, overseen by a blue-ribbon panel of intermediaries, being broad and balanced between big and small companies, staid and start-up companies, public and private companies, as carefully selected as the most conservative fund. He also sees a moderate “price stabilization” gas tax to back the plan, a tax people might accept because they would know it is backing their own investments.

    The country could use some renewal, let's face it. (click to enlarge)

    Opinion: Clean Energy Should Be Our Cause
    John Floegel, December 19, 2008 (The Street)
    Win, win, win, win, win
    Thomas L. Friedman, December 27, 2008

    John Floegel, president of Fishcreek Capital & H.B. Mertz, small business owner, co-originators of the bond idea

    Renew America Bonds would be an investment vehicle analogous to World War II’s war bonds by which Americans could support and invest in New Energy.

    It IS the "moral equivalent of war..." (click to enlarge)

    Just like the war bonds issued during World War II, the Renew America Bonds would be 30-year, zero-coupon U.S. government bonds.

    - Floegel’s Fishcreek Capital is in Summit, New Jersey
    - Floegel’s investment program would be national.
    - The bonds would be marketed (like war bonds in World War II) from the President, via investment conduits like Wall Street and Silicon Valley financial institutions, to the communitarian, religious and educational spaces across the country.

    - The bonds would be available in denominations from $25 on up, allowing even small investors to share in the adventure.
    - Each bond’s principal would be redeemable at maturity or could be converted to a payout based on the long-term performance of the New Energy economy the bonds fund.
    - The bonds would not pay interest but be redeemable on maturity at either the value of the “alternative energy investment basket” (AEB) – the companies in which the money is at work – or at the value of the money invested, whichever is a larger amount.
    - The AEB would be chosen according to “…what works…”
    - The bonds would be backed by a trust account supported by moderate gas tax.
    - The money would be invested in companies that develop and commercialize New Energy, through conduits like venture capital firms and possibly banks.
    - The conduits would be required to match the bond investment.
    - The bonds would give their holders a direct economic stake in New Energy, stimulating commitment, use and further participation.

    And it's just as much about THEM now as it was then. (click to enlarge)

    - John Floegel, co-originator, Renew America Bonds: “We need to declare our independence from oil, rebuild our industrial economy and reestablish our national prestige. We can do this with our own savings, and profit handsomely from the economic transformation.”
    - Floegel, on where the money would be put to work: “Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are available now. Wind, solar array, geothermal and safe nuclear technologies, with sufficient investment in rolling them out and in building/upgrading transmission capacity, could compensate for the additional capacity needed to electrify the transportation fleet. Combined with effective purchase incentives for electric vehicles, the American car and truck fleet could turn over within ten years, and oil would largely be displaced as a fuel in this country. If the Renew America Bond plan accomplished only that, it would be well worth it…”


    President Bush leapt into action to prevent Detroit’s Big 3 from going belly up on his watch. The stipulations on the loan his lame duck administration provided to sustain the automakers through the inauguration are not inconsiderable but they are, like the money, temporary.

    The Obama administration will want to shape future bailout monies and the stipulations that go with them. But what shape will that be?

    The President-elect has been unequivocal. He sees opportunity in the automakers’ financial crisis, opportunity to become better.

    Obama, in a recent radio address: “The auto companies must not squander this chance to reform bad management practices.”

    This is much more than rhetoric. Obama described his ideas about the U.S. auto industry in a landmark May 2007 speech in Detroit. It was a speech that could turn out to be as historically important as the
    Lincoln speech at Cooper Union that is widely seen as having won a little-known Lincoln his party’s nomination.

    In the Detroit speech, Obama told 2,000 auto industry executives their companies hadn’t done what they could to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by improving vehicle fuel efficiency.

    From the Obama 2007 speech to Detroit’s leaders: “The auto industry’s refusal to act for so long has left it mired in a predicament for which there is no easy way out…For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars. And whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it.”

    These are easy declarations to make today but the President-elect had the courage and foresight to make them long before the financial crisis drove Detroit executives to humility and when he was at the same time asking for votes.

    From the Obama 2007 speech to Detroit’s leaders: “I’m making this proposal here today because I don’t believe in making proposals in California and giving a different speech in Michigan…[He was making the proposals] not to destroy the industry, but to help bring it into the 21st century…”

    The speech offered some hints of the kinds of agreements he is likely to want from Detroit in return for continuing the financial support initiated by the Bush administration. It mentioned ideas similar to those he had proposed in Senate legislation and included in his campaign, such as (1) A 4%/year increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards (~1 mile/gallon/year); (2) incentives provided only if fuel-efficient cars are developed and produced; and (3) funds provided specifically for factory retooling by the auto companies and their suppliers.

    There is no doubt this is the future of personal transportation but oil prices have plunged since Obama gave the Detroit speech to standing ovations. U.S. consumers are once again buying gas-guzzlers. Obama recently said the fall in oil prices makes policy that will drive the needed change all the more important. Will he be able to sustain this commitment in the face of the new circumstances?

    There is also the matter of the United Auto Workers (UAW). Many in Congress refuse to back Detroit because they believe it to be hamstrung by the burden of union obligations. These opponents, who claim the Obama administration is electorally-beholden to the union, may be in for a surprise.

    While he has expressed a strong desire to protect jobs, the President-elect is on the record
    (in Audacity Of Hope) that the UAW must be prepared to make sacrifices as part of the rehabilitative process. Answering a recent question about the need for UAW concessions to bring the union’s wages and benefits to the level of nonunion workers, Obama repeated the sentiment.

    President-elect Obama, on union wage/benefit provisions: “There are going to be some painful steps that have to be taken…”

    Uproar over the choice of anti-gay marriage Pastor Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation is a mere hint of the backlash the incoming administration will experience if the UAW turns on it. Can the new President bring the union along?

    His record offers a good indication of where Obama leadership will likely lead. Specifics have simply not yet emerged. The Obama way is to seek wide-ranging input and process it. That is what he is said to be doing. His method famously leads him to what Aristotelians call
    the golden mean; in U.S. politics, it's called the center.

    Daniel Becker, director, Safe Climate Campaign/Center for Auto Safety: “I don’t think they need to be afraid of Obama. He’s not going to say ‘by next Tuesday, everything has to be 40 miles per gallon’ … But in 10 years? Maybe.”

    He's on the record. (click to enlarge)

    Downturn Will Test Obama’s Vision for an Energy-Efficient Auto Industry
    Micheline Maynard (w/Jackie Calmes), December 20, 2008 (NY Times)

    President-elect Barack Obama; General Motors (GM); Chrysler; United Automobile Workers (UAW) union; Martin Nesbitt, Obama close friend, former GM financial planner

    The billions in the Bush administration bailout of Detroit offers the incoming President an opportunity to shape the direction of the Detroit auto industry. Can he?

    Obama is said to favor the California standard. (click to enlarge)

    - The fireworks won’t start until after the January 20 inauguration – but it won’t wait too long after.
    - The May 2007 Detroit speech and his autobiographical writings constitute a “thinking out loud about the future of the American automobile industry…”
    - In 2006, then Senator Obama co-sponsored 2 bills, one to raise fuel economy standards and one to incentivize alternative fuels use.
    - Obama wrote Audacity Of Hope in 2006.

    Detroit is in “a fragile financial state…”

    - Obama may have to make serious compromises in his auto industry agenda.
    - The UAW will demand a voice.
    - The automakers have always been adamant about how long it takes and how expensive it is to make changes
    - Sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles, which are picking up again, give more immediate profits and cash flow than the vehicles the nation needs for its future.
    - Obama’s personal interest in the auto industry comes out of his interest in environmental issues.
    - Obama secures insider information about the auto industry from Nesbitt, a close friend who was a GM financial planner.

    The Obama campaign promised to put 1 million PHEVs on U.S. roads by 2015. (click to enlarge)

    - Daniel Becker, director, Safe Climate Campaign/Center for Auto Safety: “I think he gets it…The speech at Econ Club was a brave one, but a thoughtful one.”
    - Barack Obama, Audacity Of Hope: “…fuel-efficient cars and alternative fuels like E85, a fuel formulated with 85% ethanol, represent the future of the auto industry. It is a future American car companies can attain if we start making some tough choices now.”
    - Barack Obama, Audacity Of Hope: “For years…U.S. automakers and the U.A.W. have resisted higher fuel-efficiency standards because retooling costs money, and Detroit is already struggling under huge retiree health-care costs and stiff competition.”


    NewEnergyNews will end 2008 with a new feature. In addition to permanently posting columnist Anne Butterfield's contributions down the left column, her fine bi-weekly think-pieces will be posted in the main column to kick them off from now on.

    Mr. Secretary, we're watching you
    By Anne Butterfield
    Sunday, December 28, 2008

    As our new Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar will take a job that will test his fiber. He loves the Rockies and has protected Colorado's Roan Plateau from drilling. As a top water law expert, he has protected our state's water rights. Many champion his ability to protect our nation's resources which have been battered and insulted by the Bush Administration's campaign on behalf of industry.

    However, Salazar does not have a spotless record. Along with voting against higher fuel efficiency for vehicles, he was also one of a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects -- two very weird votes in light of important threats.

    He also went out of his way to support the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General and Gale Norton for Interior Secretary who both later stepped down during scandals.

    The most likely explanation of these choices is that Salazar moonlights as a weather vane.

    If he becomes Secretary, Salazar will have to stiffen his resolve and face an agency scalded by scandal for having dealt in sex, drugs and back door arrangements with the industries it is created to regulate. One such arrangement was the very recent rule change favoring industry on dumping mining debris in streambeds.

    This month Robert F. Kennedy Jr. testified to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to decry the Interior Department's recent rule change to make coal mining's worst practices fully legal. He flew over Appalachia to see the big picture.

    "If people could see what I saw on that trip there would be a revolution. We are literally cutting down the Appalachian Mountains."

    From RepMarkey via YouTube.

    What Kennedy saw were the chalky-white remains of mountains blown away from their coal seams, 400,000 acres in all. To do this, the industry uses explosive power each week that equals a Hiroshima bomb, and draglines that stand 22 stories high and minimize the need for labor.

    West Virginia's coal mining used to employ 140,000 union workers; now there are 11,000 workers left, very few in unions. With so few jobs there is little revenue to build up the local economies.

    "Ninety-five percent of the coal in West Virginia is owned by out of state interests which are liquidating the state for cash, literally," according to Kennedy.

    The economic truth does not stop mining supporters from killing the pets or sabotaging the vehicles of those who protest the mining, on the ruse of protecting "jobs." This truth did not stop Interior from ignoring the vast majority of 43,000 comments opposing the rule change proposed by industry to legalize the customary dumping of mining debris into streams.

    Back in 2002, a group for Kentucky sued the coal companies before a conservative federal court judge named Charles Hayden, who asked, according to Kennedy, "You know this is illegal. It says so in the Clean Water Act. How did you write these permits to allow the companies to engage in this criminal activity?" The Colonel testifying for the Army Corps of Engineers answered, "I don't know your honor, we just kind of oozed into it."

    Judge Hayden declared it all illegal and enjoined all mountaintop mining.

    Two days later, according to Kennedy, lobbyists for Peabody coal and Massey coal met in the back door of the Interior Department with Gale Norton's first deputy chief Steven J. Griles, himself a former coal lobbyist, and they re-wrote one word of the Clean Water Act, "fill," to make it legal in every state to dump rock, debris, rubble, garbage, any solid material into any waterway without a Clean Water Act permit.

    "All you need today is a rubber stamp from the Corps of Engineers, which in some districts you can get through the mail or over the telephone," said Kennedy.

    Remember, this is the Corps of Engineers that Salazar voted to protect from having to consider climate change in their construction plans.

    The fact remains that with his say-so, Salazar as Interior Secretary will determine the well-being of mountains and their streambeds all over the nation.

    Coloradans, who clearly love mountains, should watch him like a hawk, because it is to us he will return should he wish to win an election again.

    Sunday, December 28, 2008


    The end of 2008 saw the release of some major reports on what New Energy’s future is most likely to be. In this last 2008 edition of Sunday World, NewEnergyNews revisits a pair of the most important of the reports on world New Energy, NEW ENERGY TO PASS GAS WITHIN 6 YEARS – IEA and 2008 GLOBAL SOLAR REPORT – GLOBAL GREEN GRADES THE WORLD. (A recognition of important reports on U.S. New Energy will come later this week.)

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) showed how much better New Energy is doing than many in the energy establishment realize. It also described how difficult and costly it will be to keep atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases as low as 450 ppm.

    As the IEA report came out,
    350.ORG was leading a rising grassroots call to bring atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases back to 350 ppm from the present 387 ppm level.

    Global Green’s 2008 Global Solar Report Card showed how much better the world could be doing at developing its New Energy resources. That development is simply crucial to the fight against global climate change.


    Originally posted November 13: The International Energy Agency (IEA) is not made up of wild-eyed activists or treehuggers. It thinks about energy in global terms, in very big numbers and in very traditional (fossil fuel) terms. Its members surely wouldn’t care for the joke in today’s headline.

    Yet look what the IEA says in its
    World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2008: New Energy will soon be mainstream energy, a bigger supplier of electricity to international power grids than natural gas, the 2nd biggest supplier of electricity after coal.

    The cost of developing new coal and gas sources will become more expensive while the pricing of emissions and the technology breakthroughs in New Energy will make its price more competitive.

    And not a minute too soon.

    Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director, IEA: “We cannot let the financial and economic crisis delay the policy action that is urgently needed to ensure secure energy supplies and to curtail rising emissions of greenhouse gases. We must usher in a global energy revolution by improving energy efficiency and increasing the deployment of low-carbon energy…”

    Though not as enthusiastic as the October Greenpeace report finding New Energy can generate 30% of world power by 2030, IEA does foresee New Energy producing 23%.

    Fastest expanding New Energy: Offshore wind, expected to grow 100-fold by 2030.

    Overall cost of New Energy expansion: $26.3 trillion to 2030, $1 trillion/year, though the IEA report foresees a potential delay in development caused by the current financial crisis and credit squeeze.

    Longer-term factors opposing New Energy expansion: Lack of adequate R&D, lack of spending for new transmission, regulations discouraging distributed generation and skepticism from Big Energy.

    The IEA's conservative, Big Energy perspective is revealed by the report’s focus on oil and gas production. It points out that despite the coming New Energy expansion oil, will remain the world’s main source of energy for the foreseeable future.

    Nevertheless, the report's long-term conclusions about oil are unbiased: Oilfields are failing and production costs are rising.

    Tanaka: “One thing is certain…while market imbalances will feed volatility, the era of cheap oil is over”.

    The IEA report includes a remarkable and invaluable field-by-field analysis of the historical production trends of 800 oilfields. It shows unequivocally rising production decline rates from 6.7% today to 8.6% in 2030.

    Tanaka: “Despite all the attention that is given to demand growth, decline rates are actually a far more important determinant of investment needs. Even if oil demand was to remain flat to 2030, 45 mb/d of gross capacity – roughly four times the current capacity of Saudi Arabia – would need to be built by 2030 just to offset the effect of oilfield decline…”

    As reported previously, the IEA foresees the fall in oil supply leading to $100+/barrel prices by the middle of the coming decade and even higher prices by 2020.

    The bad news in WEO 2008 is its discussion of the urgency of dealing with global climate change.

    It describes the consequences of a business-as-usual scenario, with a global temperature increase of 11 degrees Fahrenheit, as catastrophic.

    It analyzes scenarios for stabilising greenhouse gas (GhG) concentrations at 450 or 550 ppm of CO2-equivalent, the former holding the temperature increase to 5 degrees F. and the latter pushing temperature to 7 degrees F.

    Both would be difficult to achieve (and neither offers certainty of avoiding catastrophe).

    The 550 ppm scenario requires holding emissions to 33 gigatonnes in 2030, building the share of low-emissions energy from 2006’s 19% of world power to 26% in 2030 at a cost of $4.1 trillion, 0.2% of annual world GDP ($17 per person per year worldwide).

    The cost, the IEA predicts, would be offset by fuel-cost savings of $7+ trillion.

    The 450 ppm scenario will cost a lot more and cannot be done without the participation of the world’s developing economies.

    Tanaka: “We would need concerted action from all major emitters. Our analysis shows that OECD countries alone cannot put the world onto a 450-ppm trajectory, even if they were to reduce their emissions to zero…”

    450 ppm requires holding emissions to 26 gigatonnes in 2030, upping New Energy to 36% of world power and spending $9.3 trillion, 0.6% of annual world GDP.

    Fuel-cost savings, $5.8 trillion, won’t fully pay for it. But avoiding the costs of catastrophe and protecting the world’s energy sources are in everybody’s best interests and should, according to the IEA, be of primary concern when the world’s nations next meet to lay plans.

    Tanaka: “It is clear that the energy sector will have to play the central role in tackling climate change. The analysis set out in this Outlook will provide a solid basis for all countries seeking to negotiate a new global climate deal in Copenhagen.”

    World Energy Outlook 2008 Graphs

    click to enlarge

    Renewables to top gas as power source by 2015: IEA
    Nina Chestney (w/Gerard Wynn), November 12, 2008 (Reuters)
    New Energy Realities – WEO Calls for Global Energy Revolution Despite Economic Crisis
    12 November 2008 (IEA)

    International Energy Agency (Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director)

    The World Energy Outlook 2008 sees New Energy becoming the least costly world option, the only remedy for worsening climate change and the necessary choice as oil reserves drop.

    click to enlarge

    - New Energy will overtake natural gas to become the second largest source of electricity after coal sometime between 2010 and 2015.
    - World primary energy demand will grow 1.6% per year from 2006 to 2030.
    - Oil demand will grow from 85 million barrels/day (mb/d) to 106 mb/d in 2030.
    - The scenarios plotted describe ways to address global climate change after 2012.

    - IEA, based in Paris, is the energy adviser to 28 Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
    - China and India account for 50%+ of energy demand growth to 2030.
    - The Middle East will be the next new demand center.
    - Most increase in fossil fuel use will be in non-OECD countries.
    - In the businwess-as-usual scenario, ¾ of the GhG emissions increase to 2030 comes from China, India and the Middle East and 97% comes from non-OECD countries.
    - The scenarios plotted are for use at the 2009 UN Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen.

    - The IEA report conclusions assume no new government policies.
    - Business-as-usual foresees no global climate change deal at Copenhagen and a temperature rise of 11 degrees Fahrenheit, a “disastrous” outcome.
    - A better outcome in the form of reduced GhGs and increased New Energy will come from penalties of $180 per ton on GhGs, compared to present ~$23/tonne EU ETS costs.
    - World oil consumption is expected to be lower by 10 mb/d than predicted in the WEO 2007 due to the impact of the economic downturn, higher energy prices and new policy initiatives.
    - Demand for coal rises more than any other fuel.
    - New Energy growth is the biggest.
    - Cities’ share of world energy consumption jumps from the present 2/3 to ¾ by 2030.
    - Biofuel use is not expected to grow as rapidly as other New Energies because it competes with food crops for limited agricultural land.

    click to enlarge

    - World Energy Outlook 2008: "Renewables-based electricity generation is expected to grow substantially over the coming decades, benefiting from high fossil-fuel prices, declining investment costs and government support…"
    - Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director, IEA: “Current trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable – environmentally, economically and socially – they can and must be altered…Rising imports of oil and gas into OECD regions and developing Asia, together with the growing concentration of production in a small number of countries, would increase our susceptibility to supply disruptions and sharp price hikes. At the same time, greenhouse-gas emissions would be driven up inexorably, putting the world on track for an eventual global temperature increase of up to 6°C.”
    - Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director, IEA: “A sea change is underway in the upstream oil and gas industry with international oil companies facing dwindling opportunities to increase their reserves and production. In contrast, national companies are projected to account for about 80% of the increase of both oil and gas production to 2030…”


    Originally posted December 2: New Energy is the answer to the climate and energy crises facing today’s world. And solar energy – though not yet cost competitive – is the key New Energy. Scientists who run the numbers (see, for example, Powering The Planet from Professor Nathan Lewis of the California Institute of Technology) repeatedly affirm this THEORETICAL conclusion.

    How is the world ACTUALLY doing? There was no conclusive answer until now.
    Global Green USA has released its long anticipated 2008 Global Solar Report Card, rating 16 leading nations and the state of California for their progress in developing solar energy.

    The Solar Report Card (SRC) opening sentence: “The time has come to harness the sun.”

    The SRC grades governments for how much capacity they have developed in comparison to their natural resources and how successfully they have developed policy to support manufacturing and production capacity.

    Conclusions? The document is too thorough, comprehensive and well-documented to treat with a quick, easy summary.

    And NewEnergyNews is NOT going to give up the final grades at the top of the page.
    Click here and check out this informative, visually-rich, user-friendly, excellently-documented study.

    A few teasers from the SRC:

    With present solar technology, the world’s solar resources can provide at least 4 times the world’s yearly energy demand.

    The global solar energy industry is growing at 40-to-50%/year.

    Uniquely, solar energy development offers a cost-effective solution to reaching the 2 billion people in the world who are off all electricity grids.

    Germany got the highest grade for its combination of installed capacity and policies that will promote future growth. California finished 2nd for its big rebate program.

    Spain took 3rd place away from the U.S. with a jump in installed capacity and a new feed-in tariff.

    The U.S. held on to a high place with recent passage of a long-term tax incentive but falls far short of its potential.

    Italy, France and Greece are lagging in installed capacity but earned points for good policies.

    Australia’s policies are disappointing and its performance lags far from its potential.

    Japan’s world leadership was lost when it discontinued policies it is now, finally, re-instituting.

    China’s progressive policies and goals belie its up-to-now poor performance.

    There is little to be said for the UK, Russia and Poland.

    The report is filled with maps and charts showing each country’s potential and capacities. It is one of the most complete and useful pieces of work yet produced in the New Energy field, all the more important because it was not produced by any of the energy industries’ advocacy groups.

    So, how is the world ACTUALLY doing? There could be no more convincing evidence than the 2008 Solar Report Card that, indeed, the time has come to harness the sun.

    From the 2008 Global Solar Report Card. (click to enlarge)

    Green Cross International and American Affiliate Global Green USA Find Grossly Inadequate Investment in Solar Technologies to Fight Climate Change and Create Sustainable Energy Future; First of its kind Solar Report Card Released at Poznan…Leaders and Laggards
    Alexandra Kravetz and Ruben Aronin, December 2, 2008 (Global Green USA)

    Green Cross International (Mikhail Gorbachev, founder); U.S. affiliate Global Green USA (Matt Petersen, President/CEO and Alexandra Kravetz, Energy Program Coordinator/Solar Report Card author-researcher); International Energy Agency (IEA)

    From the 2008 Global Solar Report Card. (click to enlarge)

    Global Green’s 2008 Global Solar Report Card details and rates the world’s nations’ efforts to develop solar energy.

    Released December 2, 2008

    From the 2008 Global Solar Report Card. (click to enlarge)

    - The Solar Report Card details the performance of 16 countries – Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, UK, U.S. (and the state of California) – in developing solar energy capacity.
    - Released in Poznan, Poland, at the

    - The report highlights the policies with the most promise to develop solar energy.
    - The report looks at manufacturing and deployment of solar capacity.
    - Grading considers the countries’ commitment to foster solar energy growth.
    - Most recent IEA estimate: $250 to 300 billion/year energy subsidies worldwide, $10 billion/year New Energy subsidies.
    - Grading scheme:
    (1) 30% of the grade comes from progress to date and includes (a) cumulative installed PV, 12%, (b) cumulative installed PV/GDP, 5%, (c) cumulative installed PV/capita, 5%, (d) emissions avoided with PV, 8%;
    (2) 70% comes from drivers for future development which include (a) financial incentives, 56% [feed-in tariff or rebates and grants, 25%, tax credit, 15%, subsidized loans, 8%, & national financial incentive, 8%], (b) regulatory incentives, 12% [renewable electricity standards, 7%, interconnection, 3%, net metering, 2%], (c) indirect support via education and outreach, 2% .

    From the 2008 Global Solar Report Card. (click to enlarge)

    - Matt Petersen, President/CEO, Global Green: “Solar power has a tremendous potential to deliver substantial amounts of clean electricity while reducing electricity bills and creating new jobs in manufacturing and solar installation…Solar power will only become ubiquitously competitive once government incentives and policies help advance the markets, something that could easily be achieved by eliminating subsidies for polluting fossil fuels and investing them in solar.”
    - From the Report Card: “…[S]olar is a source of power which is not only clean but versatile; it can serve power providers’ grids as well as 2 billion people, most of whom live in rural areas not connected to the grid and rely on expensive, dirty sources of energy.”