- Democratic Senator Claims EPA Creates Jobs, Health, Wealth
- Delay Has Raised US Cost of GHG Reductions
- World’s Largest Solar Bridge Being Constructed in UK
- Tendril Connect Platform Helps Lay the Path to a New Smart Energy Economy
- Timber Road II Wind Farm Commissioning Marks a First for Ohio
- WAVE 2011: EV Road Trip Race!
- The NFL Scores with Clean Energy (VIDEO)
- Layman’s Guide to Arizona Solar Rebates
- NIMBYism’s Threat to Renewables
- Double-Digit Growth in 3Q Clean Tech Investment Despite Economic, Political Headwinds
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 10:06 PM PDT
California’s Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (not pictured) today held a press conference in which she touted a twenty-page page foot-noted study showing that complying with the nation's public health and environmental protection laws has bolstered a $300 billion a year clean technology sector that employs an estimated 1.7 million people.
At the hotly attended press conference, she went on: ”Our environmental laws provide major health and economic benefits. For example, the Clean Air Act's annual benefits by 2020 are expected to prevent 230,000 premature deaths, 200,000 cases of heart attacks, 2.4 million cases of asthma attacks, 120,000 emergency room visits, and 5.4 million lost school days.”
The media, as you can imagine, simply ate it up. This is quite a different story than has been duly repeated for months, since the House devoted itself to rolling back the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund, and other environmental legislation handled by our useless, job-killing EPA.
Hands shot up around the packed room. “So, does this mean that the EPA is NOT in fact a job-killer?” asked the WSJ, incredulously. “Can you give us a figure on these so-called “economic benefits” of a healthy popluation?” demanded the NYT, belligerently, chewing thoughtfully on a pencil.
“The economic benefits of the Clean Air Act will equal about $2 trillion per year by the year 2020,” replied the feisty Senator,” if we continue enforcing the Act”.
Actually, just kidding. Judging by the coverage, today no media attended her press conference, hotly or not.
But as Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer has put it before, "If you can't breathe, you can't work. If you need to take your child to the hospital or if the breadwinner of the family dies prematurely, a major financial burden is placed on the family and often on society." The same logic applies to preventing deaths and illnesses from polluted water and toxins.
The hotly attended pressers are actually that of her committee counterparts in the Republican-held House, like high-school dropout Representative Daryl Issa: Ranking Member of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who said… no I’m not going to tell you that. You can read every one of his hotly attended utterances everywhere else. He doesn’t need no twenty-page footnoted studies that merely tout facts.
So, unimpeded by any public outcry, the EPA-dismantling TRAIN Act, H.R. 2401 – “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts of the Nation Act of 2011″, H.R. 2250 – “EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011″ and H.R. 2681 – “Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011″ just roll through congress.
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 04:38 PM PDT
In an update of world climate greenhouse gas reductions in Panama this week, international reduction targets and pledges of individual countries were tallied to assess global chances of staying within the climate levels deemed safe. For the US, the news was not good.
The US pledge at Copenhagen, coming from the success of Waxman-Markey, the climate legislation needed to reach this target being passed in the House, had been for a 17% reduction below 2005 levels. But the climate legislation was stopped dead in the Senate by Republicans. Any time in the last ten years that Senate has had at least 40% Republicans seated, legislation that threatens the fossil energy industry in particular has been filibustered. With several “Democrats” like West Virginia’s Manchin ushered in in 2010 on fossil money, and chances are even lower.
To the rest of the world, it is clear that climate deniers funded by the fossil energy industry pretty much prevent sensible legislation on clean energy in the US. This week, in comparing the EU to the US, the minister of the environment for the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Franz Untersteller was blunt.
"We don't have the situation like you have in the US, where you have this Koch brothers," said Untersteller, referring to the political interference by the heirs to the $50 billion Koch Industries oil fortune.
Panama put it more politely.”The Obama Administration has experienced difficulties in moving major policies forward that would contribute substantively to achieving this goal”.
But the longer the delay, the more expensive it will become to reach the target needed. The technical feasibility of actually achieving reductions decreases with steeper rates, and the costs tend to increase rapidly. Both are depending on national circumstances, but research suggests that a 3% annual reduction would be very ambitious and costly.
Climate Tracker analyzed the effect of different starting points for implementing action on the required emission reduction rates to achieve the United States' Cancun pledge of 17% below 2005 levels.
While only a relatively easy annual reduction rate of 1.3% annually would have been needed to reach a 17% reduction from emission levels in 2010, just after the of the US target in Copenhagen in December 2009.
By 2015, however it will take much steeper reduction rates of 3% annually to meet the target, assuming that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the relatively low average rate of the last five years from 2006 to 2010, a period which includes the Bush recession begun in 2008. If the economy recovers it would likely rise faster, making the costs of reduction more expensive.
The delay puts the US at a financial disadvantage in comparison with China and the EU.
syndication and copyright
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 12:06 PM PDT
A remarkable rooftop solar project is now under construction in the UK. Solarcentury reports it is installing a solar roof containing over 4,000 photovoltaic panels above a bridge spanning the River Thames – a part of the Blackfriars station. When complete, the Blackfriars Bridge will be the world's largest solar bridge.
This Victorian-style bridge, built in 1886, is being renovated by Network Rail to accommodate more passengers and provide improved train service. The project is scheduled for completion by mid-2012.
According to Solarcentury, the solar panels are expected to generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity annually, some 50 percent of the station's energy requirements. CO2 emissions will be reduced by an estimated 511 tons per year. In addition to solar panels, other energy saving measures at the new station will include rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting.
The Blackfriars upgrade is part of Network Rail's Thameslink programme, intended to provide longer trains running on the Bedford to Brighton route through London. When the upgrade is complete, up to 24 trains per hour will be able to run on the central London section of the route, providing more commuter seating.
In a statement, Lindsay Vamplew, Network Rail's project director for Blackfriars, said: "We're creating a spacious, modern station and delivering a vastly improved train service for passengers, while at the same time installing London's largest solar array to make Blackfriars more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
Newman added that unknown to most, there are many buildings in London now powered by solar in the capital as investment in this technology increases. "For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy.
Photos via Solarcentury
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 11:04 AM PDT
“Knowledge is power”
In three words, Francis Bacon clarified a philosophy just as true in the 21 century as it was in the 16th, and in ways he could never have imagined as our modern, hyper-connected world comes to grips with growing resource and energy constraints. Today, our urgent task is to imagine what a sustainable “post carbon” energy economy could look like, utilizing the information and networking revolution of the past twenty years to lay the path for the energy revolution of the next twenty years. For innovators and companies like Tendril, building the “energy internet” is the growth niche for a new economy.
Efficient energy management is vital in our transitional times, an essential first step toward a sustainable future. Taking that first step entails an energy-information “superhighway” built on the smart grid to facilitate end-to-end, realtime communication between power utilities and consumers. From that foundation comes the true power of knowledge that is disseminated from the free flow of and access to information. What Tendril calls the “Consumer Smart Grid.”
The challenge of imagining a new energy economy – or just a lower energy bill – requires embedding the information flow created from the smart grid into our daily lives; raw data transposed into knowledge that can inform effective decisions about how we consume and manage energy throughout our day. Making day-to-day choices about energy use should be as natural as where and when we choose to fill up the car with gas (to use a purposefully ironic analogy).
At the heart of the Consumer Smart Grid is the Tendril Connect platform, an open source integrated suite of API’s and applications for utilities and consumers to enhance and build on the fundamental two-way communication platform between utilities and consumers. Tendril is initiating a growing number of pilot programs with regional power districts that incorporate the Connect Platform to enhance smart energy management for utilities and their customers, including realtime and historical energy analysis tools, load control, and demand response.
But some of the most exciting applications of the Connect platform go beyond basic utility-consumer interaction. Making the platform available as an open source dataset enables third-party “ecosystem partners” to build the tools needed to further engage consumers to manage real-time energy decisions, analyze historical data, automate their “energy flow” and set actionable goals for saving money and reducing consumption. The Tendril platform can reach consumers where they live – in their smart phones and computer screens.
Creating the next killer app
Especially exciting is seeing the ways innovators are using the open platform to create solutions. At the recent inaugural Cleanweb Hackathon in San Francisco, individuals teamed in groups of two or three to build IT-based solutions to address energy management and resource sustainability. Using Tendril’s dataset and API’s, two teams, Dr. Wattson and Team TACO (an acronym for “true cost of ownership”), were both winners.
Dr. Wattson, for example, was conceived on the straightforward idea that “sleuthing” a lower energy by comparing local energy plans should be easy. All it takes is access to the right information. The interface is simple, but as the screenshot below demonstrates, the information it provides – in this case how I can save on my own energy bill – is powerful. It shows in one easy step how I can save money, reduce energy consumption, and lighten my carbon footprint.
Awareness informs change
Energy is the lifeblood of modern society, flowing through our human endeavor with increasing demand. Yet we typically give little thought to how we can best manage energy consumption or optimize efficiency as we move through our daily lives. Largely that is due to lack of the knowledge the allows us the power to easily and effectively incorporate decisions about energy into our day-to-day concerns. But all that is changing. Through the development of the “energy internet” and innovation from companies like Tendril and their partners, a new energy economy is at our fingertips.
Knowledge is power.
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 06:07 AM PDT
Ohio’s first commercial-scale wind farm went live today. EDP Renewables North America’s $175 million, 99-megawatt (MW) Timber Road II Wind Farm will supply electricity to more than 27,000 homes when fully operational.
In addition to generating affordable clean, renewable power from a plentiful natural resource, Timber Road II has produced jobs, income for more than 100 landowners and tax revenue for the local government. More than 60% of the products used to build the wind farm were manufactured in the US.
Strong, steady winds are characteristic of the entire region. A changing business climate and Ohio’s alternative energy standard, which fosters wind and other forms of clean, renewable power, is what prompted EDP to locate the plant outside the city of Payne, just over a county line in Paulding County, according to a Times-Bulletin report.
Local government joined EDP Renewables North America officials and others in officially launching Timber Road II in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday. “The fuel itself is free – wind – and no other fuel can say that,” EDP Renewables North America’s Gabriel Alonso told the Times-Bulletin’s Kirk Dougal.
“We see a big benefit for landowners who will be getting millions of dollars in revenue. It will raise millions for local communities. We are very proud. The one thing you can not discount is that we are right on the border of Ohio. Three miles away (in Indiana) the wind resources are the same. But why we chose (Ohio) has to do with policy.
“The alternative energy standard and the right incentive for utilities to buy wind or solar energy. This is very good for us but very beneficial for consumers and AEP Ohio because they are getting fixed prices for 20 years. Policy matters, it was critical for us to get this project done.”
Ohio’s Renewable and Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard requires that electric distribution and services companies source 25% of the electricity they sell within the state to be generated from alternative energy sources. A minimum 12.5% must come from renewable energy resources, including wind, hydro or biomass, while at least 0.5% must come from solar.
All electric distributors and service providers are required to meet annual renewable and solar energy benchmarks that increase as a percentage of the total electrical power they sell each year. At least half the renewable electricity they sell must be generated at facilities located in Ohio.
Timber Road II is generating about 14MW of electrical power as EDP works to bring the wind farm fully on-line. Vestas 100, 1.8 MW wind turbines are being used.
The American Wind Power Association’s Denise Bode pointed out that a supply chain for the wind farm are already in place right in Ohio, including manufacturing companies for turbine parts and training centers such as the Vantage Career Center to supply maintenance workers.
Check out some other articles about wind power:
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 05:39 AM PDT
All sorts of races and challenges for electric cars have been successfully completed this year, and the WAVE 2011 is no exception. The WAVE is a road trip through Europe, stopping in cities such as Paris, Vienna, and Prague. Each leg of the trip is 75 miles, with no more than 250 miles allowed per car per day – still much farther than most people drive!
The WAVE is open to teams with all sorts of electric vehicles. Participants this year included the TWIKE, a Citroen C Zero, Mitsubishi's iMiEV, and Nissan's Leaf, as well as modified small gasoline cars, and prototypes such as the Audi A2 and the Renault Clio. Even a pair of electric bicycles made the entire trip, with team members switching back and forth in the cycling seat.
The route wasn't all fun and architecture, as the teams also drove through snow and rain in the Swiss Alps. Getting the EVs through passes like the Grimsel and Furka passes (over 7800 feet above sea level!) and the Oberalp Pass presented special challenges. In each major city, the EVs were evaluated for fun and
The WAVE demonstrates how easy it is to travel in an environmentally friendly manner – and to prove it, once reaching the home city, each team had to deposit the remaining energy in the EV back into the grid.
Team TWIKE walked away with the trophy this year, but next year is anyone's game. Any takers?
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 05:12 AM PDT
A typical NFL stadium uses enough electricity in a year to power about 1,000 average U.S. homes, leaving some football teams with annual power bills of more than a million dollars.
Two NFL franchises, the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks are investing in renewable energy to save money and help the environment, inspiring players to take on some of their own green initiatives. For instance, Washington linebacker Lorenzo Alexander not only supports the team's efforts, he has a green lifestyle of his own, driving a hybrid Toyota Prius to practice every day.
FedEx Field, the home of the Redskins, is now getting 20 percent of its electricity on game days – and 100 percent on other days – from a new solar array in the parking lot, the largest in the league. Redskins owner Dan Snyder says it was an opportunity for his team to set an example for the rest of the league, as well as other types of businesses.
In Seattle, the Seahawks installed the NFL’s first stadium solar array — 4,000 tube-shaped panels atop a building next to CenturyLink Field. The team uses the solar array and a centralized control system that allows the team to not only control every light and scoreboard in the stadium but use energy more efficiently, cutting annual usage by more than 20 percent. It was the Seahawks owner and Microsoft cofounder, Paul Allen, who initiated the move toward greening the stadium. He is a driving force behind the greening of all professional sports. His Green Sports Alliance Summit in Portland this summer drew representatives from the NFL as well as other sports.
The alliance's co-founder, Alan Hershkowitz, says his group found that 18 percent of Americans say they pay attention to science, while 56 percent of Americans say they pay attention to sports. He believes putting solar panels on football stadiums will send a message to supply chains that green energy is a worthwhile investment.
The clean energy kick is apparently catching on among Redskins fans. Washington, D.C., has won the EPA’s first ever Green Power Community Challenge for using the most green power in a year. D.C.’s businesses, residents, and government used enough renewable power to meet 8 percent of the city’s total electricity use.
You can watch the full segment by clicking the video below:
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 04:54 AM PDT
Last week I was in Tucson visiting an old college buddy and he kept asking me what I do. So, naturally, the conversation gravitated towards solar. It was fun as he seemed genuinely interested in solar energy, how economically viable solar was, and what it would take for him to go solar. However, I was a somewhat startled how little he knew about what Arizona offered in terms of financial incentives and how they apply (particularly in conjunction with federal incentives). After working out the numbers for him, I thought it might be useful to spell it out for the masses as well.
First, Arizona offers a Solar Energy Credit for consumers who install a solar or wind energy device at their Arizona residence — used against the consumer’s personal income tax in the amount of 25% of the cost of a solar or wind energy device, with a $1,000 maximum allowable limit, regardless of the number of energy devices installed. The credit is claimed in the year of installation. Arizona exempts the value of a renewable energy source from a property owner's property taxes.
As far as rebates, the amount of the rebate is dependent on who your utility provider is, as they are the principal provider of cash rebates to solar customers in Arizona. The state's largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), offers homeowners an incentive of up to $1.00 per installed watt of DC capacity for grid-tied solar systems. So, if your system is 4 kW or 4000 watts in size, you’ll receive a check for $4,000. The state's second largest utility, Salt River Project (SRP), offers homeowners an incentive of up to $1.35 per installed watt of DC capacity, up to a maximum of $6,750. And if you live in Tucson and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is your utility provider, TEP offers homeowners an incentive of up to $2.00 per installed watt of DC capacity for qualified, grid-tied solar systems.
(Just a side note: if you’re interested in getting solar for your home, it’s best to act now as the APS, SRP and TEP rebate numbers are down from where they were just a couple of months ago. As with all states, particularly California, the state solar rebate is not infinite and declines as more and more people access it. So if you want to take advantage of free money, it’s best to move sooner than later.)
Below is how I modeled it out for my friend who lives in Tucson, using a 4 kW system as my model:
6.7 years to pay off an investment that will provide you with economic value for over 20 years — not too bad. This, of course, is assuming you decide you want to purchase the panels (and you live in Tucson — obviously, if your utility provider is APS or SRP, the payback period will be longer because the rebate is smaller). Most solar installers offer unique leasing arrangements so you don’t have to come out of pocket up front to buy the panels.
What is great about leasing is that the cost of leasing the panels plus your new electric bill is usually still below your bill without solar. Some installers offer other unique programs, like power purchase agreements, where the solar provider/installer secures funding on their own for the solar project, installs the solar system on your home and then sells the electricity from the solar system to the homeowner at a fixed contractual price for a set length of time.
On top of the state subsidy, the entire state of Arizona has a net metering policy which means that you only pay for the net amount of electricity that you use. With net metering, homeowners with solar installed are able to "bank" the excess electricity their solar system generates and receive credit up to 100% of their electric use bill at the full retail electricity price that they can use later.
In fact, Arizona has one of the best net metering laws in the country. Excess generation is rolled over month to month, and any surplus is returned annually to the consumer at the avoided cost rate. Not all Arizona electric utilities offer net metering. It is necessary to check with the utility serving a specific address to determine if net metering is available to you.
Net metering requires special inverters that are capable of delivering power to a utility, and the utility will want to approve of the inverter and other safety-related equipment in order to protect their equipment, personnel, and other customers. Please note that my model above did not take into account any additional funds received from net metering.
Anyway, this is basically what I told my friend and I think it helped him… he's got an appointment with a local installer this week! For those Arizona residents who are intrigued but need help finding a solar installer, a solar energy matching service such as that provided by Solar Arizona can also take much of the guess work out of selecting a solar installer. Good luck and happy solar hunting!
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 04:22 AM PDT
A recent poll said 63 percent of Americans support renewable energy investment… in theory. But, in practice, Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) opposition to new energy infrastructure prevents about 45 percent of renewable energy proposals from being built across the country, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
For instance, the Michigan chapter of the Raging Grannies, a national band of senior citizen environmentalists, wants to see the completion of a wind farm off the shores of Grosse Pointe, MI, right outside Detroit. But local residents are opposing the proposed farm. Sailboat owners claim the turbines create dead air, making it harder to sail. They also say and the turbines will be unsightly.
There is similar opposition to renewable projects all over the country. The permit process for the Cape Wind offshore wind project in Massachusetts took nine years, over the opposition of locals, including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Off the coast of Virginia, the military is opposed to offshore wind, claiming turbines will interfere with their training. And in the Mojave Desert, a rare tortoise protected by the Endangered Species Act has slowed development of a massive solar farm.
And in Maryland, engineer and inventor Robert Bruninga, wanted to turn his unused boat dock into a solar field to provide electricity for his home. But the state denied his permit because, according to Maryland law, nothing is allowed on a pier unless it’s of aquatic nature.
Bruninga has been appealing to the state for a year and a half to make some sort of ordinance for solar panels on boat piers. Until then, he has to set up his panels on the ground in the back of his house, moving them every month because of the shade from the trees.
Patrick Earle of Takoma Park, MD, a science teacher, wanted to put solar panels on his roof, but needed to remove an old silver maple tree. But the Takoma Park arborist told Earle he would have to replant 23 trees in its place, or pay $4,000 into the city’s tree fund.
Earle learned the trees didn't have to be planted on his own property and was able to get the city to reduce the number of trees to 15 if he planted bigger ones, so he went around town giving out free trees to his neighbors. Total cost: About $600. And now Earle and his family are proud owners of a rooftop solar array, providing about 75 percent of his home’s electricity needs.
You can watch the full segment by clicking the video below:
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 02:04 AM PDT
"While financing remains constrained, it's great to see growth in venture activity," said Sheeraz Haji, Cleantech Group CEO. "Energy Storage emerged as our top sector, indicating continued strong interest in advanced technologies for grid-storage as well as for electric vehicles. Global enterprises continue to investment aggressively into clean tech."
Energy storage topped Cleantech’s investment table for the first time in 3Q, attracting $514 million of capital. Solar, at $350 million, and energy efficiency, at $223 million, followed.
Clean Tech Investment: Geography
Breaking out clean tech investment dollars geographically, North America accounted for 76% of the worldwide total, attracting $1.69 billion in 3Q, a 17% quarterly and 59% annual increase, according to the Cleantech Group’s Quarterly Investment Monitor Report.
Clean tech investments in Europe and Israel fell 34% quarterly and 32% annually in 3Q, to $230 million spread across 40 transactions, down from 44 in 2Q.
Clean tech companies in the Asia-Pacific region raised $303 of capital in 21 transactions. India ranked third after the US and UK in total investment capital raised. China ranked third globally in the number of transactions, according to the Cleantech report.
Clean Tech Venture Capital Investment
IPOs and mergers & acquisitions slowed down on a worldwide basis in 3Q as compared to the first half of 2011, but venture capital (VC) transactions hit a record-high 128 in the US. California attracted 39% ($654 million), Massachusetts 10% ($176 million) and New Mexico 10% ($175 million).
Following is a list of the largest investments in each of Cleantech’s top four sectors:
ENERGY STORAGE: 19 deals; $514 million
* Bloom Energy, a California-based developer of solid-oxide fuel cell technology, raised $150 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates and others
SOLAR: 33 deals; $350 million
* HelioVolt, a Texas-based developer of CIGS thin-film solar cells, raised $85 million from New Enterprise Associates and SK Group
ENERGY EFFICIENCY: 34 deals; $223 million
* Fusion-io, a Utah-based developer of green solutions for servers and workstations, raised $61.5 million from undisclosed investors
TRANSPORTATION: 15 deals; $177 million
* Coda Automotive, a California-based manufacturer of electric vehicles, raised $66 million from Aeris Capital, Angeleno Group and others in two investment tranches
For more on clean tech investments and trends, check out the following:
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