MORE NEWS, 11-4: THE NEW AL GORE BOOK; WHAT NEW ENERGY WANTS FROM WASHINGTON; WHY BETTER BUILDINGS; THE SMART METER MARKET
THE NEW AL GORE BOOK
The Evolution Of An Eco-Prophet; Al Gore's views on climate change are advancing as rapidly as the phenomenon itself.
Sharon Begley, October 31, 2009 (Newsweek)
"…[Al Gore gave Newsweek writer Sharon Begley a tour of his house and talked about] his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis (printed on 100 percent recycled paper for a savings of 1,513 trees and 126,000 pounds of carbon dioxide; all associated CO2 emissions offset through the CarbonNeutral Co.; all profits to the Alliance for Climate Protection, which he founded in 2006 and to which he donated his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize money). Here in the dining room, he says with a wave, he papered the walls with giant 20- by 23-inch Post-its, covered with his notes. 'Stacked on the floor all around the walls were these thick notebooks from the solutions summits,' he says with a chuckle. The pool table was conscripted to hold material for more chapters. There was method in the chaos, but just barely. Most books take 12 months to produce from the time the author delivers the manuscript to the publisher; Gore, with two research assistants, was still writing in August, imperiling the Nov. 3 release date.
"But Gore, former newspaper reporter that he is, made the deadline. Out on the patio, Gore reminisces about how he wrote. He gathered experts at half a dozen of those solutions summits—unpublicized, invitation-only, and off-the-record—in New York, Nashville, and three other cities beginning in 2007, where he listened to presentations on, among much else, renewable energy, nuclear power, energy efficiency, and the 'smart grid.' He also 'circled back to do in-depth one-on-one interviews' with dozens of scientists and technology experts, picking their brains and getting their latest results. By the end, he says, 'I had a 40-page outline, really encyclopedic. There were really about 10 books in there.'"
click thru to learn more about the book
"And one has absolutely no trouble—none, zero, nil—believing him…Our Choice is Al Gore at his best and his worst. It is authoritative, exhaustive, reasoned, erudite, and logical, a textbooklike march through solar and wind power, geothermal energy, biofuels, carbon sequestration, nuclear energy, the potential of forests to soak up carbon dioxide, energy efficiency, and the regulatory tangle that impedes the development of a super-efficient, continent-wide system of transmission lines. It is, thank goodness, no '50 things you can do' primer. To the contrary. Although Gore hopes laypeople will exert political pressure for what he calls 'large solutions,' he told me last week in a call from Cairo, Our Choice reflects the experience of someone who knows that it is lawmakers and business leaders who can implement the 'laws and policies we really need, including getting a global climate treaty.'
"Despite suffering one of history's worst political fates, Gore has by no means given up on politicians. Behind the scenes, he takes calls from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and strategizes with Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, sponsors of the Senate climate bill. Although he applauds President Obama's speech last week announcing $3.4 billion in stimulus money for work on a smart grid and the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, he falls short of a full-throated endorsement. 'I'm optimistic they'll get legislation out of the Senate,' he says, 'but the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the approach they're taking' on negotiations for a climate treaty, which begin in Copenhagen next month.
"To anyone with bad memories of how Gore's fact-filled debate performances against George W. Bush in 2000 failed to connect with voters, it may come as no surprise that Our Choice has a graphic on 'how a wind turbine works,' and a long section that begins: 'Conventional hydrothermal plants are built according to one of three different designs. The steam can be taken directly through the turbine and then recondensed … ' But because of one sentence, and one chapter, it does surprise. The chapter is an astute analysis of the psychological barriers that keep most Americans from taking the threat of climate change seriously, his acknowledgment that emotion, not just reason, drives the decisions people make. The sentence is this: 'Simply laying out the facts won't work.'"
From WeCanSolveIt via YouTube
"Asked how he reconciles that realization with the wonkish content of the book, Gore at first seems stymied. But then, when I prompt him, he points to pages on the spiritual dimension of climate change, the idea that God gave man stewardship over the earth, and that preserving it for future generations is a sacred obligation. Then he opens his laptop to show a commercial by his Alliance for Climate Protection, in which the Revs. Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson make an odd-couple plea for 'taking care of the planet.' Gore allows that he's been tailoring the slide-show training he gives to faith-based volunteer groups. 'I've done a Christian [-based] training program; I have a Muslim training program and a Jewish training program coming up, also a Hindu program coming up. I trained 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders here in Nashville in a version of the slide show that is filled with scriptural references. It's probably my favorite version, but I don't use it very often because it can come off as proselytizing.'
"The book's most significant concession to going beyond 'laying out the facts' comes in the final chapter. Here, Gore imagines a future generation asking how we averted catastrophic climate change. He paints a scenario in which the U.S. passed climate legislation this year, a global treaty was negotiated, and the world was 'pleasantly surprised that so many of the changes [in energy supply and use] were not only inexpensive but actually profitable,' he writes. 'We should have known we were capable of coming together in supporting such an urgent cause … With God as our witness, we made mistakes. But then, when hope seemed to fade, we lifted our eyes to the Heavens and saw what we had to do.' …"
WHAT NEW ENERGY WANTS FROM WASHINGTON
Clean-Energy Wish List: Six Federal Policy Actions to Ensure U.S. Leadership
Ron Pernick, November 2, 2009 (Clean Edge)
"…In a recent Clean Edge/Green America report, we highlighted five financing models [see HOW NEW ENERGY GROWS] that could serve the U.S. on the capital investment side of the equation. But to remain competitive on the global clean-energy playing field, and to ensure our status as the world's preeminent innovation nation, the U.S. must implement [six] aggressive federal policy and regulatory actions…
"1) Enact a Federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES)…[A] federal RES would go a long way in providing guidance and guaranteeing that more states join the movement. We believe that a minimum federal RES of 20-25 percent by 2020 or 2025, designed with enforcement mechanisms -- real incentives for succeeding and penalties for failing -- is doable and desirable. And renewables must be clearly defined. There's a reason why 26 states out of 29 with [RES], like California and Illinois, don't include nuclear power and "clean coal" in their standards…"
Potent new Energy Efficiency standards will make a huge difference. (click to enlarge)
"2) Ensure Government Procurement of Clean Energy, Green Buildings, and Energy Efficiency… It has happened with aerospace, transistors, and other technologies in the past. As one of the largest single purchasing entities in the world, its purchasing decisions can have a significant impact on success vs. failure for an industry. Recently, the federal government has made some significant strides in aligning its purchasing with sustainable practices, like Obama's recent energy efficiency, resource conservation, and sustainability directive for federal agencies. But now government agencies must not only create their own plans, but meet targets, offer transparent information, and influence suppliers…
"3) Overhaul energy subsidies to shift from imported fossil fuels to domestic clean energy…The U.S. still provides hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to oil and gas industries that are controlled by some of the wealthiest companies on the planet… [T]he federal government should reassess this…and shift these subsidies to the industries of the future: solar, wind, geothermal, energy efficiency, and the like… 4) Improve Energy Efficiency Standards Across the Board…Energy efficiency…[is] the least expensive option for reducing energy demand. The federal government can go a long way in reducing energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and U.S. reliance on foreign fossil fuel supplies by setting aggressive efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings, appliances, HVAC, industrial motors, and more…"
Fossil fuels and emissions-intensive energies get the bulk of subsidies. Level the playing field for the New Energies and watch them play to win. (click to enlarge)
"5) Put a Price on Carbon…[T]he most contentious policy recommendation. But...a combination of the following could go a long way in putting a price on carbon and setting an enforceable cap…a. Implement a transparent cap-and-trade system that has checks and balances…b. Deploy a carbon tax along with a clear and enforceable cap -- and make sure the tax is near revenue-neutral…c. Retain the right for the EPA to move forward with regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act…6) Support the Build Out of New, Reliable Electric Grids…The electric grids in the U.S. are outdated and deteriorating. By making the build out of new electric transmission lines and smart grids a national priority, the U.S. would be investing in our collective future. Policies would need to streamline and speed the process…and the federal government could play a supportive role in setting open standards for smart-grid devices and networks…
"…This is not some far flung pipe dream, but an achievable reality being pursued by smart, technologically savvy global stakeholders. But shifts in policy, like those highlighted above, will be required to meet these ambitious and critical national clean-tech goals. If the U.S. wishes to lead and innovate, the Federal government must act now."
WHY BETTER BUILDINGS
Nth Power and Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems Release Report on Innovating for Better Buildings Affirms that Market Meltdown is Opportunity in Disguise
November 2, 2009 (PRNewswire via Reuters)
"Nth Power, LLC, the veteran cleantech venture capital firm, and the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) released a detailed report on the massive market opportunities for innovation within the US building construction industry. The detailed report gives a comprehensive description of the market dynamics creating the opportunities and explains the contrarian view that the current residential and commercial market meltdowns are a positive 'springboard for innovation.' The report also includes a guide for entrepreneurs interested in pursuing these large, yet challenging opportunities, as well as an overview of some exciting emerging technologies…
"Innovating for Better Buildings represents an integrated look at the building technology space from both a practical investor's point of view and an applied technological perspective…"
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"Nth Power and Fraunhofer believe that today there is a 'perfect storm' of forces within the US building construction industry leading to a revolutionary shift in attitude towards innovation. These forces are encouraging more stakeholder collaboration, better technology integration, and improved construction approaches that will enable cost effective, high-performance building technologies to be deployed on a massive scale. The authors believe that the recent market downturn is accelerating these changes. As construction slows down, those involved within the construction process have more time to respond to the growing demand for better performing buildings by focusing on better practices and technologies…
"The report provides a historical perspective of the industry's broken innovation process that has consistently produced buildings that are severe energy wasters. As a consequence, today's US residential and commercial buildings are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than every country except for China and the US itself. The good news is that much of this waste can be eliminated with readily available technologies and best practices…"
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"Underperforming or poorly integrated subsystems are a major source of inefficiency in buildings - if all but one system is efficient, a building can still perform terribly. Moving away from a component view to a whole-systems view is critical…Major construction companies are now recognizing and embracing these changes…
"Nth Power, LLC (www.nthpower.com) is a venture capital firm based in San
Francisco and is the first and most experienced venture capital firm funding
promising startup companies in the Cleantech space…Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) (cse.fraunhofer.org) is one of six Fraunhofer USA research centers. Fraunhofer USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft which has over 80 research units at more than 60 different locations throughout Germany…"
THE SMART METER MARKET
Smart Meters; Smart Electrical Meters, Advanced Metering Infrastructure, and Meter Communications
Bob Gohn and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2009 (Pike Research)
"The electrical metering industry is undergoing the largest transformation since its founding over a century ago…The transformation of the basic electrical meter, often still an electromechanical spinning disk, into a smart meter, an energy information gateway aimed at fundamentally changing how energy is consumed, is a major part of this task. And it comes with unique opportunities, new challenges, and unprecedented risks…Already, almost 3.5% of the world’s approximately 1.3 billion electrical meters
can be considered “smart,” and this is forecast to grow to over 18% by 2015…The six-year period of 2009 through 2015 will see shipments of over 200 million smart meters.
"Underneath a seemingly steady 19% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for worldwide smart meter unit shipments lies a series of distinct regional growth waves with distinct ebbs and flows…North America will see a wave of smart meter shipments peak at over 15 million in 2012, while Europe, an early adopter with smart meters already making up over 12% of the installed base, will experience its own sustained peak in 2014-2015. Asia, with different drivers, is not expected to see significant growth
until approximately 2015."
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"The operational benefits of smart meters…have driven most mature deployments…Smart meters enable granular, real-time (or near real-time) energy consumption…Consumers will be incentivized and/or penalized through dynamic time-of-use rates into reducing and/or shifting their electricity use…[addressing] climate change, fragile energy supplies, and overall economic growth and security. Hence the adoption of smart metering systems is a high public policy priority in many parts of the world…
"Smart metering systems are composed of multiple unique technologies, including the meter itself (measuring and recording basic consumption and perhaps a bevy of other information), and a “network of networks,” connecting the meter and perhaps even in-home devices, to the utility’s enterprise IT systems…Despite the existence of plentiful, well-defined standards used in existing wireline and wireless voice, data, and video networks, the metering “network of networks” is a jumble of semi-proprietary, purpose-built, vendor-specific systems…The meter communications landscape, like virtually every aspect of smart metering, is also changing, as customer and government policymakers demand interoperable standards, presenting new opportunities and disruptive threats to the vendor community. Communications security also has emerged as a major issue, resulting in an additional push for comprehensive standards…[C]iting the unparalleled success of the Internet, and backed by government influence, [some] have successfully pushed for adoption (and where necessary, creation) of Internet Protocol-based standards throughout the smart metering infrastructure…This opens the opportunity for a reshuffling…"
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"…Significant consolidation aimed at both vertical systems integration and creating global reach in a market conditioned to regional specialists is proceeding apace…[E]merging standards-driven commoditization would appear to favor the integrated solution providers in the long term. New industry entrants, most notably Cisco, threaten to significant[ly] disrupt what has been a quiet and stable ecosystem.
"The implications of this smart metering boom are many. For consumers, the information and automation provided by smart metering systems offer a chance to reduce energy expenses, or at the very least, better absorb possible large energy cost increases driven by supply constraints and/or carbon taxation. For utilities, these systems offer a concrete way to drive operating efficiency and directly influence consumption patterns, though the complex regulatory and governmental environments often muddy the relative incentives. For smart metering vendors, these represent unprecedented and time-limited waves of opportunity that can make or break their futures, and are inviting unfamiliar competition. And for suppliers to these vendors and others along the food chain, this represents a similar opportunity with more than a few risks."