- Global Warming Truth — The World is Warming (& We Are Causing It)
- Cost of Solar Power in India May Drop 40% by 2015
- Wind Energy & Wind Turbine Market Booming Globally (1,750,000 MW Projected by 2030)
- California Governor Tells Western Grid: No Renewable Energy Imports Needed
- Gopher State Becoming a Clean Tech Diamond in the Rough
- Community Solar Power for Virginia, Dominion Virginia Power Proposes
- Solar Leasing Comes to New York
- Empower Women & Tax Currency Transactions to Create More Renewable Energy, UN Says
- New “Plug-N-Play” All-in-One Solar Panel Coming Soon
- Tidal Power at Center of 50-Billion Pound Thames Hub Regional Redevelopment Plan
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 03:13 PM PDT
Given the ridiculous strings of comments we receive here on CleanTechnica from time to time regarding global warming (claims that it’s not happening or isn’t caused by humans), I thought I should share some important global warming information with you all (information I hope will help you to find some clarity on this issue and will help you in such discussions when you find yourself in the midst of them). While these commenters are mostly (or probably entirely) just “trolls” (people posting “inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion”) who come in from other sites, I think it’s important our readers know some basic facts about global warming (since it is a, if not the, leading driver of cleantech globally). So, below is a repost of a recent article I wrote on sister site Planetsave explaining how we know global warming is caused by humans.
First, though, I’ve got a few other things to share. (Mind you, though, you can often discuss the matter for days with a troll without them budging in the face of scientific facts, so don’t hold your breath…).
Here are some links to other posts that I think are useful ongoing resources:
On common climate science myths promoted by trolls:
On the false scandal referred to as “climategate”:
(Short summary: Truthfully, it was a scandal, as emails covering the course of over a decade were stolen and pieces of them were published out of context in an effort to frame the scientists. While at least 7 independent evaluations have determined there was no misconduct in the scientific work of the researchers and their conclusions are as sound as ever (or even more so), many global warming deniers still claim that there was misconduct, and I’m sure many confused citizens who don’t follow the issue still think so, as well.)
Also, it’s worth noting that a recent study by a leading global warming skeptic and professor of physics, Richard Muller, and funded by some major fossil fuel interests (i.e. the Koch brothers) to “check the work” of thousands of climate scientists found essentially the exact same warming trend as the scientists Muller was “skeptical” of. He has acknowledged this and, thankfully, the mass media has reported on it. But global warming deniers who were once in love with Muller and the project have now turned on him. In the graph below, Muller’s study is the one with the black line titled Berkeley:
More on that:
If you want to see who else has supported the conclusions of climate scientists (and who hasn’t) here is a handy chart:
And, now, a short piece on global warming and how we know it’s being caused by humans (some of the reasons why all of the scientific bodies above support this climate science “consensus”):
Hopefully that was useful to you, and hopefully you now know where to turn when you get into a discussion with a troll.
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 02:34 PM PDT
Lanco Solar CEO V. Saibaba has stated that he thinks solar power costs in India could come down 40% by 2015, which would make solar cost-competitive with other energy sources even without subsidies correcting for the social costs of dirty energy.
Due to the growing solar market for solar and technological development, the rupee per kilowatt price of solar is projected to drop from 11-12 to 7-8. ”The most important thing is the economics of scale are coming,” Saibaba told Reuters on the sidelines of a solar industry conference. “In the next three to four years, I see the solar power costs coming down to 7 to 8 rupees a unit.”
India, one of the world’s largest polluters (in total, not per capita or per GDP), has a plan to invest $70 billion in solar by 2022, reaching 1,300 MW by 2013 and 20,000 MW by 2022.
The projected price trends and cost-competitiveness are comparable to worldwide projections. It’s pretty a common expectation that in 3-5 years — even without any accounting for the trillions in dollars dirty energy costs the world each year in social, environmental, and health problems — solar will be completely cost-competitive. In such a world, unless the rich dirty energy industry convinces politicians to give them even more than the billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies it gets every year, solar will continue its explosive growth around the world.
“Given the current scenario with the way it is growing and the way costs are coming down, our industry will probably not require any financial support from the state going forward in maybe three to four years,” Saibaba said.
Check out more on India’s solar (and wind) energy projects and plans here.
Solar panels in India via Ajay Tallum
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 02:09 PM PDT
Wind energy is growing in use across the U.S., both small and large wind turbines are getting installed at record rates. And the trend is similar across the world. A new report by Transparency Market Research, ”Global Wind Energy & Wind Turbine Market (2011 - 2016),” finds that there’s been a Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25% over the last 5 years.
As previously reported, total installed wind power around the world reached 197, 039 MW by the end of 2010. That is expected to reach a tremendous 1,750,000 MW by 2030. The wind turbine market is projected to reach $93.1 billion by 2016.
With costs dropping, wind continues to enter previously unexplored markets. And in markets where it already exists, it is being chosen over other more expensive options (even natural gas).
China passed up the U.S. for total installed wind power capacity last year and is expected to hold that title indefinitely, but the U.S. is still installing a ton of wind power every year and many other countries around the world are, as well. Perhaps more interesting is installed wind power per GDP and per capita. From our wind power pages, per GDP, the top countries are (numbers are MW/$Billion):
Per capita, the leaders are (MW per million people):
Technological advancements have helped to make wind power cheaper and more practical in more locations, and despite it being a relatively mature sector compared to many other renewable energy sources, such technological improvements and cost reductions are expected to continue in coming years, further growing its applicability and installation. The wind turbine market is expected to continue with a double-digit growth rate in coming years.
Major players in the wind turbine market, which is dominated by horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) — 90% of the market — rather than vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs), include: Gamesa, GE Energy, Mitsubishi, Siemens, Suzlon, and Vestas.
Onshore wind turbines account for 95% of the market, but the nascent offshore wind turbine market is projected to grow considerably once more cost-competitive technologies are developed due to the tremendous, more reliable, and closer-to-population-center wind resources off coastal areas of the world.
For more from Transparency Market Research on these matters, check out its wind market report.
Offshore wind turbines in Denmark by United Nations Photo
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 01:24 PM PDT
Western grid operators have been making plans for large-scale renewable energy imports into the California electricity market, prompting the governor’s Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy Facilities to write a “self-reliance” response.
Here are a few highlights of his letter to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC):
California has plenty of in-state development: “The California Independent System Operator indicates that renewable projects totaling 70,000 MW of installed capacity [nearly enough to meet all of the state's peak summer demand] are seeking to connect to the CAISO-managed grid.”
Transmission costs are up, waaay up. In particular, “the developer of at least one significant line, TransWest Express, expects the project to cost about 70 percent more than WECC’s original assumptions…we thus appreciate the ongoing efforts of WECC staff to review these and other assumptions and to revise capital cost assumptions upward.”
Transmission line risks: “transmission lines proposed to stretch hundreds of miles over private and public lands face significant permitting and development risk – perhaps most so in the case of DC lines, which offer few electrical benefits to the states they cross.”
In summary, California has a robust in-state market for renewable energy and sufficient in-state renewable resources to serve its entire electricity needs, so Western states would do well to temper their export optimism.
Self-reliance popular on both coasts
The letter from Gov. Brown’s office in California is the latest in a slew of comments from the coasts arguing for locally generated renewable energy rather than importing renewable power over a large-scale network of transmission lines from the interior.
In a New York Times Op Ed, the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles, wrote:
In May 2009 (and again in 2010), the governors of 10 East Coast states wrote to senior members of Congress to protest paying for a transmission system that would default them to importers of power. Requiring their residents and businesses to pay billions of dollars for new transmission lines that would import electricity from the upper Midwest and Southwest into their region "could jeopardize our states' efforts to develop wind resources … " They added, "it is well accepted that local generation is more responsive and effective in solving reliability issues than long distance energy inputs."
Nine of the 10 Eastern states whose governors signed the May 2009 letter could get over 80 percent of their electricity from in-state renewable resources, according to the Energy Self-Reliant States report (map below).
This Map Should Shape the Market:
Many wind and solar developers may like the low-cost profile of wind in the Mountain West or Midwest and solar in the sunny Southwest, but their plans to ship that power to the Coasts via new high-voltage power lines built at ratepayer expense may run afoul of their prospective customers.
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 08:12 AM PDT
While Minnesota is known for gophers, ice, and a thousand lakes, it is also becoming known as a hub for clean technology in the mid-western United States. Two recent events have only solidified the Gopher state as a serious player in green technology.
The University of Minnesota this past week opened up its doors to the Wind Energy Research Station. The opening of the station involves a 2.5-megawatt (MW) wind turbine and a 426-foot-tall meteorological research tower that will allow researches to investigate how to build more efficient wind turbines while creating more skilled engineers and technicians, something that will help to solidify the US as a clean tech power.
“Projects like the research station at the University of Minnesota provide hands-on training for talented students and help advance the technologies necessary to achieve the Administration’s goal of generating 80% of our nation’s electricity from clean energy resources by 2035," said Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary.
The University of Minnesota wind consortium is a part of a US$7.9 million fund received by the US Recovery Act in 2009 to help boost wind energy in the US. The U of M was one of two other universities who received money from the Act to improve wind energy efficiency. The University of Maine in Orono and the Illinois Institute of Technology were also the big winners. An additional US$3.1 million from other sources (including, Xcel Energy, 3M, and Lockheed Martin) also provided support for the project.
Besides Minnesota shoring up its reputation in wind, it is also a national leader in energy efficiency. The state finished in the top ten, eighth overall, in energy efficiency, according to the American Council For an Energy Efficient Economy. The report cited various factors that kept Minnesota’s ranking unchanged from last year, including: good utility policies that allow for energy efficiency, loan programs that offer support to homeowners, and 75% of new on-road fuel efficiency standards of greater than 30 miles per gallon.
While the state may not be as trendy as California, with its cost competitive advantage and strong passion for using entrepreneurship for solving social problems like environmental issues, Minnesota is definitely well-placed for attracting more people to it’s already 52,000-strong environmental sector.
Photo Credit: By WindImages
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 08:04 AM PDT
Dominion Virginia Power (yes, a major power company in Virginia) has proposed a community solar power program for its region. The program would involve it leasing commercial and public facility rooftops and grounds and putting solar panels on them.
“The panels would generate enough electricity to power about 6,000 homes during peak daylight hours,” a news release on the proposal states. “The initiative would be part of a multi-year program designed to help expand the company’s understanding of community-based solar energy, study its impact and assess its benefits.”
The proposal went to the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
The pluses of such a program, in my opinion, would be that more underutilized developed space would be tapped for solar, and businesses and public agencies could financially benefit from that at least a little. It would create a more distributed, secure, and (obviously) clean electricity production network. With more solar going up on buildings across the region, and the power company being behind that, more individuals might consider putting solar panels on their homes or their businesses themselves.
We write about the benefits of community-based solar energy a lot here on CleanTechnica — it’s often more efficient and helps the local economy more, for example. While this program would involved Dominion Virginia Power owning the solar power systems, it still provides many benefits.
Specific locations are yet to be identified, but “at least four of the solar sites would be located in community settings, such as local government buildings, schools, community associations, neighborhood associations or nonprofit organizations.”
In total, there are supposed to be solar panels installed on 30 to 50 sites in the region.
The proposal also includes discussion of purchasing solar power from customers for a new rate (not yet determined).
Virginia solar panel via USDAgov
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 07:41 AM PDT
SunRun, “the nation’s leading home solar provider” and solar leasing pioneer, announced yesterday that it has expanded into New York. We’ve covered solar leasing (and SunRun) here on CleanTechnica a number of times, but for anyone not yet familiar with solar leasing’s benefits and downsides, here’s a list for you:
SunRun has partnered with New York solar installers Mercury Solar Systems and OnForce Solar so far for the New York solar market. Solar leasing from SunRun is now available to residents serviced by ConEdison Westchester, ConEdison New York City, and Orange & Rockland Utilities.
SunRun is expanding fast and intends to continue doing so. Here’s a striking fact for you: 1 out of 8 homeowners who went solar in 2010 went through SunRun. As one resident put it: ”We looked into solar for many years, but $25,000 was quite a speedbump to get over. With SunRun, it became a no-brainer because the upfront costs are low and they maintain the system for free.”
“In today’s economy homeowners need to put their finances first, and we’ve found a way to make solar something that’s good for homeowners’ wallets and the planet,” says SunRun President and Co-founder Lynn Jurich. ”We’re excited to bring this offering to New York….”
Solar power costs have dropped off a cliff, and people are taking advantage of that. Have you gone solar yet? Ready to?
Image via SunRun
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 07:06 AM PDT
The UN's annual Human Development Report published this year, titled Sustainability and Equity, has declared the environment is going downhill, measuring deterioration in several areas. The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) believes that human development (defined by the UN as “the expansion of people’s freedoms and capabilities to lead lives that they value and have reason to value”) will suffer if these trends are not halted or reversed.
The report made a number of bold statements, including one particularly gender-specific piece of information. According to the report, the more women in politics, the cleaner and more renewable energy is. To quote the report, female involvement:
The UN also correlated lower birth rates and a cleaner environment; fewer kids means less mess. Cuba and Iran were held up as examples – they're showing lower fertility and do a better job of protecting their environment. In the simplest way possible, fewer people use fewer resources and produce less trash:
How Much Clean Energy Costs (and How To Pay For It)
How much clean energy costs was also investigated, and it's not cheap (at least $249 billion by 2030) – but it was also pointed out that current military spending and "perverse" subsidies accounted for far more. (For the record, the report implied that "perverse" subsidies were those spent on fossil fuel.)
In order to pay for clean energy, the UNDP investigated the possibility of a currency transaction tax, also called a "Robin Hood Tax." The UN determined that a tax of 0.005% would yield around $40 billion a year worldwide – a substantial chunk of the money needed for renewable energy, and not a tax that would affect the average third- or even first-world citizen.
Human Development (Not Going Backwards Yet)
The UNDP also measured the human development index, which uses health, education, and income to rank each country. Norway scored the highest, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo scored at the bottom. It also compared the rankings with last year; Cuba is a better place to live, while Kuwait is apparently going to the dogs.
Renewable Energy for All!
2012 is the international year of sustainable energy for all, as designated by the United Nations. The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) sees it as an opportunity to make a high-profile push for universal access to clean energy. In the wake of this year's UNDP report, a new group has been created to increase support for universal energy access, led by Kandeh Yumkella (wiki) and Charles Holliday (wiki):
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 07:03 AM PDT
Onyx Service & Solutions has been developing a “plug-n-play” all-in-one solar panel this year that you may be able to buy from your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, or other such store soon. It will include a 280-watt, high-efficiency solar panel and a built-in microinverter. The panel and microinverter were sourced in Asia, but it’s intended that the source of the battery, future development, and manufacturing be in the U.S.
The battery is supposed to provide at least 5 hours of peak power. The panels are being designed to “fit together in series for virtually unlimited power configurations,” Onyx president Malcolm Burleson says. (Sounds useful and fun!)
Burleson apparently feels strongly about making a “Made in the USA” product and helping the struggling economy. "As an American company, we feel it is our duty to manufacture this technology in the U.S. and use it to create as many American jobs that economic prudence allows,” Burleson says. “We want our revolutionary product to carry the Made in USA label."
This isn’t the only company looking to develop a mainstream plug-n-play solar panel. A rooftop plug-n-play solar power system called AC Unison was released at the Intersolar North America conference this summer, for example. I also wrote about Clarian’s plug-in solar panels last year. And we covered some plug-and-play solar panels from Veranda Solar two and a half years ago. Nothing has blown up and taken the market by storm yet. Will the panels from Onyx or the AC Unison do so?
You can download a schematic and more information about the product on Onyx’s “investor relations” page under the “Featured Product” section on the right.
Posted: 03 Nov 2011 01:35 AM PDT
UK architects Foster + Partners, Halcrow and Volterra are partners in proposing a massive, 10-15-year, 50-billion pound (US$80 billion) regional redevelopment plan for the Thames Estuary, the centerpiece of which would be a 5-billion pound (US$8 billion) project to install in-stream tidal power arrays capable of generating 525 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of clean, renewable electricity, enough to power some 76,000 homes.
Announced yesterday by famed architect Lord Norman Foster, the Thames Hub proposal would also see the construction of new flood defenses and a complete revamping of the region’s transportation infrastructure, including construction of an international airport on the Thames Isle of Grain capable of accommodating 150 million passengers per year, according to a businessGreen report.
The tidal arrays would form part of a new, 500 meter-wide flood barrier stretching 5 kilometers in length. In addition, Foster’s plan notes that up to 1,000 more 60-90 kiloWatt (kW) tidal power turbines could be installed on floating pontoons or anchored to the Thames River bed.
The tidal power system could be linked to the regional grid via an interconnection that’s already being built for the London Array offshore wind farm.
“Great Challenges Require Bold Solutions”
Along with generating renewable power on a large-scale and shoring up the region’s flood defenses, the redevelopment plan would overhaul its transportation, communications and water infrastructure. New road crossings and host conduits for high voltage power, broadband fiber lines and water distribution, the greenBusiness report notes.
High-speed passenger and freight rail route encircling London would be built, linking the airport and a planned high-speed rail line to England’s Midlands and the North, as well as Thames Estuary ports and the Channel Tunnel.
“Great challenges require bold solutions, which is why I believe our Thames Hub vision is critical to society and to the country’s economic prosperity,” Halcrow group board director, David Kerr was quoted as saying.
“If we don’t sustain and invest in infrastructure, then it’s at our peril. If the UK is to remain globally competitive, these proposals need to be seriously considered.”
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