Monday, September 19, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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CO2 Emissions & Pollution — Why Cleantech is Important (Infographic)

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 02:08 PM PDT

Cleantech is important for job creation as well now, but it’s the economic, health, and quality of life costs associated with CO2 and other pollution that is really driving this extremely fast-growing market. We didn’t realize for a long time, and we tried to deny it after that (and many still do), but the health and ecological costs of traditional fossil fuel energy and dirty tech are tremendous. What we think we save in ‘cheap energy’ is actually much less than what we pay for in reduced health and critical damage to important ecological systems and services.

Global warming gets most of the attention, for good reason (the effects of global warming are tremendous), but the costs of dirty energy and dirty tech go far beyond the effects of global warming. Check out this infographic below for more on CO2 emissions, other pollution, and some of the effects of common types of pollution (CLICK TO ENLARGE):

Infographic created by Reuse this Bag, which, believe it or not, produces reusable bags.


Worldwatch Institute: U.S. Needs to Go Green (for Economy & Ecology)

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 01:37 PM PDT

Habitat on the Cheap and Smart at Denver Sustainability Park

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 10:12 AM PDT

Doug Eichelberger and George Nez stand before their demonstration habitat made of salvaged materials

On the southeast corner of the Denver Sustainability Park, George Nez and Doug Eichelberger stand before an unusual-looking structure they have designed and built. Its features: it costs nearly nothing to assemble other than sweat; it looks distinctive; it can be erected anywhere in the world; it is structurally strong, and it helps clean the land of trash.

The building is made primarily from materials that can be found in trash heaps worldwide – plastic bottles and scrap pieces of rock and broken concrete. Instead of being used to build house on the cheap, these are materials that sadly end up in the waste stream. But here this bunch of scrap is a worthy building material that can be used to provide shelter for people who have none. Haiti immediately comes to mind.

When asked what name should be given to the structure with its distinctive hyperbolic paraboloid roof designed by Nez, he dismisses the suggestion he and Eichelberger name it after themselves.  Nez, many years ago, the director of planning for Denver, and then an international habitat pioneer developing emergency housing for people suffering from disasters like earthquakes and floods, has little interest in applying his name.

"Call it an organic structure made with salvage materials," he answers tersely.

The demonstration building – erected in a skeletal form so observers can understand the structure – will be on display in the sustainability park. While it has required a considerable amount of time for assembly, it cost little – a primary goal the men have in their quest to design habitats for people who need them the most.

Doug Eichelberger treats the window

As Eichelberger points out, "The philosophy behind this project is to help the poorest or the poor in our world. It is presented as a ‘win-win’, clean up the environment and create housing. It is labor intensive, but technically very simple." Eichelberger, an architect and sculptor, built his first version of a trash barn in 1995 on his ranch in Larkspur, CO.

The walls on this structure have been assembled using two systems: bales of scrap plastic which were donated by Alpine Recycling – each bale weighing 900 pounds – then set in place with a forklift. A second method, one more fitting for people without construction equipment, involved hand filling the wire structure, or gabion, with plastic, rock, or broken concrete. When the wall sections of bales were in place, a coat of stucco was applied. The stucco stabilized the wall structure before the roof was set. "The stucco is the armor that holds everything together, says Nez.

George Nez stands next to the demonstration habitat at Denver Sustainability Park

The hyperbolic paraboloid roof was built on the ground and covered with mesh before being coated with latex-modified lightweight concrete. It was then hoisted into place using a small crane. In a developing country, the men say such a roof would be hoisted by hand in a ‘barn raising’ fashion.

"I’ve seen great video of 20-plus people lifting and pushing a roof like this into place. Everyone is yelling at the same time, with a big cheer at the end when the roof is in place," says Eichelberger. "Everything we’ve done to date has been done as it would in the field, except the roof. George is 90, I’m 55, and our friends are the same vintage.  We just can’t muscle it into place, so we used the crane."

Nez's roof structures have already been used successfully in countries like Rwanda, Sudan, and Romania. Of note, the structure features ventilation and an elevated ceiling space with a second floor deck that can be used for sleeping or storing goods.

Two things ring out loud and clear about this habitat demonstration from the two men: its remarkably low cost and its positive environmental impact, salvaging materials that are being fed to the waste stream. "That waste all over the world completely chokes the land," says Nez.

This building with no name truly is a "win-win" solution.


Photos: Meyers


Indian Wind Energy Giant Suzlon Targets Chinese Offshore Wind Market

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 06:00 AM PDT

Indian wind energy giant Suzlon Energy is reportedly planning to expand its manufacturing capabilities in China. The company, the largest in India by installed capacity, will start manufacturing wind turbines in China and will export them to other countries. Up until now, turbine parts were manufactured in China and then exported to Suzlon’s facilities in other countries where they were assembled into the final product.

The decision to start manufacturing operations in China will help the company reduce costs, which is crucial, as its financial results in the recent few quarters have not been very encouraging. The company will start manufacturing 2-MW wind turbines in China.

Suzlon is also planning to venture into installation of offshore wind energy projects. While Suzlon itself does not manufacture offshore wind turbines, REpower — acquired by Suzlon — manufactures 6-MW turbines for the European markets.

Suzlon is planning to partner with state-owned oil and gas exploration companies to set up offshore wind energy projects in China. In China, offshore wind energy has only just started taking centre-stage. Land-based wind farms are located in the remote interior of China, where lack of grid creates power evacuation problems. Another issue with these wind farms is that they are located very far away from the major demand centres which are closer to the coastline — cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

The Chinese government is planning to set up several large-scale wind energy projects in the near future. Suzlon has the advantage that it has access to the tried-and-tested European technology which is unlikely to be matched by local Chinese manufacturers.

Experience in the Chinese market will help the company launch offshore wind power services in India, where the government is currently conducting studies to identify potential offshore wind energy sites.

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by nateOne


FARE — Shock Doctrine in Action

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 04:30 AM PDT

by Steve Horn

In her famous book The Shock Doctrine​: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, author and activist Naomi Klein quotes the Godfather of free market capitalism, Milton Friedman, whom she credits with mainstreaming the “shock doctrine.” Friedman stated:

“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real changes. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

Under a textbook “shock doctrine” scenario as it pertains to the ongoing and escalating Solyndra Corporation hoopla, two U.S. Senators, sponsor David Vitter (R-LA) and co-sponsor Ron Johnson (R-WI), have introduced U.S. Senate Bill 1556, the Federal Accounting of Renewable Energy Act of 2011 (FARE) [PDF], or “FARE” as a direct response to the Solyndra saga — “ideas that are lying around,” to quote Friedman.

The bill dictates that,

“Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each Federal agency shall submit to Congress an accounting for all financial support (including grants, loans, loan guarantees,and direct payments) made by the agency during fiscal years 2009 through 2011 to promote the production or use of renewable energy.”

It further mandates that:

“If a recipient company received financial support to carry out a project…and the recipient company is no longer in existence or is unlikely to substantially achieve the purpose of the financial support the Inspector General of the Federal agency that provided the financial support shall conduct a preliminary investigation of the documents submitted by the company and executives of the company to determine whether the company or executives potentially committed fraud in obtaining the financial support.”

As I noted in a previous DeSmogBlog article, the real story is not being told — that is, thevast government subsidy discrepancy and favors bestowed on the dirty fossil fuel industry compared to the modest public funding for the clean, renewable energy sector. As alluded to in that article, it is as if Solyndra was set up to fail all along, and then was set up as a scapegoat to shame the renewable energy industry at-large.

Even if Solyndra’s demise was unintentional, the company’s downfall is providing the perfect scapegoat for the introduction of the Vitter-Johnson FARE Act.

This “shock doctrine” bill, which has conceivably been gathering dust in some fossil fuel industry lobbyist’s “ideas lying around” drawer until the opportune “crisis,” uses Congressional audit power as a weapon to hold the renewable energy industry to a far different standard than that of the fossil fuel industry — all by design, at that.

The FARE Act, by any reasonable standard, is utterly unfair when placed within a broader context of public support for energy companies. The hypothetical question must be asked: Would these same standards ever be applied to the public funding of the fossil fuel industry? Have they ever before? The answer to both of these questions is obviously no.

Will other Senators and the public see through the charade? Or will the shock doctrine once again derail American progress towards a safe, climate-friendly energy supply?

Read the Federal Accounting of Renewable Energy (FARE) Act [PDF], provided here for the first time publicly by DeSmogBlog.

This post was originally published on DeSmogBlog.


125 Republican Votes Against the Environment: Database Compiled by Waxman’s Staff

Posted: 18 Sep 2011 10:46 PM PDT

To hear Republicans tell it, their attacks on the EPA in this congress are in response to what the American People want. Well, just so The American People know what The American People want, here is a searchable online database  (thanks to Leslie Kauffman at the New York Times Green blog) that details each of the 125 votes that House Republicans have taken on environmental issues in this congress.

The list was compiled by the staffers of Rep Henry Waxman, (who co-authored the Waxman-Markey climate bill, that the CBO scored as injecting $60 billion into our economy while cleaning up our little climate problem before it gets too catastrophic by switching us to clean energy using cap and trade – that Senate Republicans filibustered).

Like Mr. Markey, Mr. Waxman’s legislative staff have time on their hands these days, as no other legislation is being proposed by the House Republican majority. Other than not paying our bills, that is.

"We do want a record of what the House Republican agenda is, very clearly stated so people can see it one spot," said Karen L. Lightfoot, spokeswoman for Mr. Waxman.

You’re familiar with the votes against lightbulb innovation of course. Here’s one of the more arcane. They blocked funding to remediate damage from broken hydro-electric dams.

They took twenty votes to block actions addressing climate change. Twenty two votes would defund or repeal clean energy initiatives.

Twenty-eight were to undermine elements of the Clean Air Act, blocking the agency from issuing rules on particulate matter, ozone pollution, or mercury, and to prevent the implementation of greenhouse gas rules.

Nearly half of them target the EPA, with fifty votes against environmental regulation. We’ve covered some here recently.

The list includes stand-alone bills and amendments filed to other pieces of legislation. Along with the EPA, the departments of Interior with twenty five measures, and Energy were also also in the crosshairs with twenty four votes.

One of the sillyest was a vote against Democrat Jay Inslee’s bill to transfer Department of Energy ARPA-E research funding to clean energy innovation from fossil energy. The oil industry has been around since the nineteenth century, and they should have it down by now. ARPA-E was specifically designed to advance cutting edge new clean tech.

Cartoon by JonikCartoons

Susan Kraemer
(syndicate this article here)


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