Thursday, May 10, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Solar PV at the Crossroads: Europe Leads, China, US, Emerging Markets Need to Pick Up the Ball

Posted: 10 May 2012 07:57 AM PDT

Apollo Belvedere, The Vatican

The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry continued upwards along its surprisingly rapid growth path in Europe and around the world in 2011 in spite of ructions caused by a combination of a glut in the supply of solar PV cells and panels, a precipitous drop in sales prices, and the phasing out or elimination of government support. That’s the recent past. With the near-term outlook gloomy and the medium- and long-term outlooks uncertain, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has issued its “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2016” report.

Conducting an in-depth, comprehensive study of solar PV markets, industry value chains, electricity markets and government policies across Europe, EPIA found that while the industry now finds itself weathering a storm, the medium- and long-term prospects “for continued robust growth are good.”

“The results of 2011 — and indeed the outlook for the next several years — show that under the right policy conditions PV can continue its progress towards competitiveness in key electricity markets and become a mainstream energy source,” according to the EPIA’s analysis.

Looking at the European solar PV experience in 2011, EPIA noted that:

  • 29.7 GW of PV systems were connected to the grid in 2011, up from 16.8 GW in 2010; PV is now, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity;
  • 21.9 GW were connected in Europe, compared to 13.4 GW in 2010; Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, with 75% of all new capacity in 2011;
  • Italy was the top market for the year, with 9.3 GW connected, followed by Germany with 7.5 GW; Italy and Germany accounted for nearly 60% of global market growth during the past year;
  • China was the top non-European PV market in 2011, with 2.2 GW installed, followed by the USA with 1.9 GW;
  • The number of markets achieving more than 1 GW of additional PV capacity during 2011 rose from three to six: Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan, USA.

Europe has paved the way forward when it comes to installing solar PV and making the transition to “green” economies powered and fueled by clean, renewable energy resources. Along the way, European demand has spurred the emergence of a globalized solar PV value and supply chain, which, along with supportive government policies and innovative market-based pricing mechanisms, such as solar Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), has seen the cost of solar approach and even reach parity with conventional electricity sources.

Other findings from the report highlight the progress that’s been made both EU-wide and local:

  • Solar PV now meets 2% of EU electricity demand and roughly 4% of peak demand
  • Solar PV meets 5% of Italy’s overall electricity demand and 10% of peak demand
  • Installed solar PV capacity in the southern German state of Bavaria averages 600 W per resident, roughly three panels per capita

Picking Up the Solar PV-Grid Parity Torch

Solar PV’s drive to grid parity has been extraordinarily rapid, but it remains unfinished, the EPIA notes. EU nations’ pioneering introduction of solar FiTs has been a significant learning experience that solar PV industry participants and energy policy makers in countries outside the EU are going to school for and benefiting from.

Just as a confluence of factors led to stellar growth of solar PV in Europe in recent years, a confluence of factors now threatens ongoing progress. The effects are rippling out globally.

The EU’s facing historically severe fiscal, sovereign debt and unemployment problems that has the region facing its second recession in four years. The massive increase of supply, driven by heavily subsidized solar PV exports from China, has driven sales prices down to the point where pioneering, major solar PV manufacturers are shuttering plants and laying off workers, if not declaring bankruptcy. Thus far focused on enacting austerity measures to counter its socio-economic problems, EU governments are scrambling to cut back spending, including reducing solar FiT rates.

Changing conditions in Europe are ushering in a period of “rebalancing” in the solar PV market, the EPIA concludes. “European markets where PV has developed vigorously in recent years have reached, at least for the time being, a level that will be difficult to maintain in the two coming years.

“The market slowdown in Europe will not immediately be offset by market growth elsewhere in the world, but a rebalancing has begun. New markets around the world will have to be opened up to drive PV development in the coming decade just as Europe accounted for it until now,” the EPIA report authors state.

The EPIA study singles out China, the USA, Japan, and India, as having “addressed only a small part of their enormous potential for PV development. “Moreover, the Middle East, South East Asia and South America are on the brink of starting their development, pushed by an increasing awareness of solar PV potential.”

High Solar PV Potential Worldwide

Despite the challenges, the EPIA believes Europe has the potential to install some 20-25 GW of additional solar PV capacity in coming years “with the right policies in place.” What’s really needed is for other countries to pick up the solar PV torch, however.

Worldwide, solar PV capacity increased more than 100% in 2011, with China adding more than any other country outside the EU region. Moreover, the EPIA notes, “the US market doubled, and Japan is also making significant progress.

“The potential for future growth outside Europe is tremendous and PV will soon expand in dozens of countries thanks to its competitiveness. This non-European market could top between 38 and 77 GW in 2016, with the right policies in place everywhere.”

Analyzing Europe’s experience and emergence as the global leader in solar PV, the EPIA found that strong, clear and consistent government policies are essential to sustainable industry and market development and growth. “Consistent” is an especially important operative word, as is the need for policy makers to take “measured and balanced” approaches to making policy alterations based on market developments.

“If any general lesson can be drawn from the various market analysis, it is this: Sudden, stop-and-start policies (making harsh and/or frequent changes in the FiTs, for example) can threaten PV’s growth momentum by destroying investor confidence.

“What is needed is a more measured response to market developments. This balanced approach will lead PV gradually out of the Feed-in Tariff era and into one in which the technology is competitive against all electricity sources and in which governments continue to support market development in other ways — for example, by removing bureaucratic barriers, encouraging innovation, and ensuring grid access.”

Sound advice the US and other fast-growing solar PV markets can benefit from, especially at a time when existing government subsidies, incentives and investment hang in the balance.

Related posts:

  1. China Wants China-Grown Wind Turbines, for Itself and Europe
  2. Solar Industry Has a Record Year, but Expecting to Climb Much Higher in 2010
  3. The State of Solar Power in Europe


Japan’s Hot Springs Could Be a Significant Source of Geothermal Energy

Posted: 10 May 2012 03:17 AM PDT

 
Geothermal Energy From Hot Springs

Japan, as a nation, has been understandably wary of nuclear power and nuclear weapons for well over six decades, and that wariness only increased last year when an infamous tsunami and earthquake struck the Fukushima nuclear power plants to make a perfect storm of a radiation horror story. The end result, amidst rebuilding efforts still underway fifteen months later, is that Japan has apparently washed its hands of nuclear power entirely (the last nuclear reactor was shut down on Saturday night).

Simply shutting down the reactors, obviously, has the first effect of “yay, no more nuclear waste, no more nuclear power, no reactors set to potentially explode if the ground beneath all our feet decides it wants another dance.” The second effect is the electricity shortage that comes with that, and the third is the potential increase in greenhouse gas emissions as Japan tries to make up that shortage by burning fossil fuels. Then, there's the matter of Japan having to import the fossil fuels from elsewhere (it's not like it has its own stash to mine), and it's not a pretty picture.

Volcanoes to the Rescue!

However, Japan's very nature of geological instability (it is a volcanic island chain, after all) might give it an edge in geothermal power. It's sitting right in the middle of the infamous Ring of Fire, and has oh so many hot springs (no, seriously, you can just go sit in them and everything; the monkeys do it). Estimates put a total of 23.47 GW of potential geothermal energy in those hot springs (although there are many located in resorts and national parks that are difficult or impossible to exploit, making the usable number somewhat lower).

For a country with as much seismic energy bouncing around as Japan does, it uses remarkably little geothermal power now — only 0.5 GW. It does have the option of solar power (3.5 GW, potentially) and wind power (2.5 GW, again potentially), but geothermal offers perhaps the most potential energy to meet Japan's needs.

Japan currently generates just 8% of its power from renewable (and local) sources. The goal is to be at over 25% in the next 18 years, and tapping its incredible potential for geothermal energy can only help it reach that goal. Questions or comments? Let us know below!

Source: Inhabitat
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Related posts:

  1. Geothermal Sources Could Add Significant Power Generation Capacity
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  3. Government, Private Sector Join to Make Neal Hot Springs Geothermal Power Plant a Reality


Huge Soccer Stadium Going Solar

Posted: 10 May 2012 03:08 AM PDT

 
Hugesoccerstadiumsolar

Brazil’s Estadio do Maracana seats over 82,000 and has hosted a FIFA World Cup where nearly 200,000 attended. The stadium will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup final as well. Seating capacity for the 2014 FIFA events should be 85,000. Besides soccer matches, it has been the site of many other events, such as concerts and the 2007 Pan American games. Soon it will also be known for generating solar power.

Yingli Solar, along with Light ESCO and the state of Rio de Janeiro, will collaborate on a large solar installation there. Over 1,500 solar panels will be fitted to a large metal ring encircling the stadium. YGE 245 Series modules will be used for the  project. These modules use polycrystalline cells to generate 245 watts each.

“We believe we’re working with the best partners possible on this project, and we will be offering the State of Rio de Janeiro significant value for many years to come,” said Flavia Silveira, Energy Commercialization Manager, Light ESCO. (Source: Sacramento Bee)

The stadium is one of the most well known in Brazil, so using it as a showcase for solar technology sends a signal to the nation there is a commitment to renewable energy and sustainability. Given the very large audiences and media attention, the new solar installation should generate considerable buzz on the topic of solar power. Other soccer venues used in the FIFA 2014 matches will also get new solar panels, as part of an effort to promote sustainability by pairing it with the world’s most popular sport.

Brazil has recently allowed residential and commercial sites to install up to one megawatt of solar power and begin selling the power back to the grid using net metering. For some time, it is expected smaller installations may be the more common trend, until technology prices drop further. None of this means larger plants are not being built or encouraged. Their national government just offered an 80 percent tax break over the first ten years of operation to any new solar power plant up to 30 MW.

Image Credit: Arthur Boppré, Wiki Commons

Related posts:

  1. Brazil World Cup Stadiums to Be Powered by Solar Energy
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  3. Atlanta-based Suniva Powers India's Commonwealth Games Stadium With 1 MW Rooftop Solar PV System


Rocket EV Electric Bike Sets a New Quarter-Mile Record (201 MPH in 6.94 Seconds)

Posted: 10 May 2012 02:40 AM PDT

Electric Spider-bikeOne of the advantages to driving an electric vehicle is all the torque — you get off the line super fast. Where that has typically started to go ever so slightly downhill for the average EV drag racer is in sustaining a quicker top speed than drivers in a conventional gas-powered vehicle for an entire quarter mile. This is no longer quite the case.

The aptly named Shawn Lawless and his group have been working on getting their Rocket EV drag-racing motorcycle to go faster, get there quicker, and do it longer. All that hard work has paid off — he set a record of reaching 201 mph in 6.94 seconds at the Virginia Motorsports quarter-mile strip. Check out the video below:

Electrons — They Go Fast

The electric bike itself has been around for a couple years — Lawless has apparently been tweaking it since 2010 — but it's been pretty solidly updated for this run. It runs on a 13-inch DC motor with a custom Zilla controller, and sports a 14.2-kWh battery (which, by the way, is 150 lbs. lighter than its previous battery, so good work there).

No matter what's under the hood or how many wheels are touching the ground, a 7-second quarter miles is pretty quick, and the Rocket EV can more or less repeat its performance — it's made the run in 7.16 seconds (reaching 188mph) and in 7 seconds flat (reaching 195 mph) on the same track.

Inexplicably, the driver is dressed like Spiderman (who, despite his affinity for flying from roof to roof like a ninja with gobs of sticky string, would still probably have trouble beating this thing in a race). Whatever his reasons, it's a super neat bike going really fast in a straight line, and not emitting any greenhouse gases doing so.

Source: Treehugger | Image: YouTube

Related posts:

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  3. U.S. Installs 1,400 Megawatts of Wind Energy in 3rd Quarter – Heading for Another Record Year


#ThrottleUp: GEnx Super-Efficient Jet Engine Hologram Experience at Creative Week

Posted: 10 May 2012 02:00 AM PDT

 

New York City is hosting Creative Week this week, May 7-11. The week includes a number of interesting events, but I’m just seeing one related to cleantech — GE’s Throttle Up event and experience. Throttle Up, located at 56 Water Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm all week, is a “massive interactive hologram experience” that uses some of the most state-of-the-art technology (see below) to focus people’s attention on the power of the GEnx jet engine.

Of course, the cleantech part of this is that the GEnx is wicked efficient. The GEnx cuts NOx emissions as much as 55% below current regulatory limits, and it cuts other gases as much as 90% below such limits. While it would be great to switch to a sustainable, zero-emission fuel for all flights, it’s clear that’s not happening any time soon. Until it does, we need continued advancements in the efficiency of the engines that power our planes, so it’s great to see the GEnx going far beyond requirements.

"GEnx engine is powering through a water ingestion test."

What’s the secret to the great efficiency of this completely hand-built jet engine? It’s made of a lightweight (very lightweight) composite material that GE says it spent two decades developing. “The tough, carbon-fiber epoxy resin is corrosion resistant, lighter than titanium alloys, and shaves some 400 pounds off each engine.” This composite is also used for the fan blades of the GE90, another super-efficient jet engine I wrote about in March that holds the title as the largest and most powerful jet engine ever built.

Alongside the interactive hologram experience in Brooklyn this week, you can follow news about events related to it on Twitter using the hashtag #ThrottleUp, for those of you who (like me) can’t make it to Brooklyn.

The following are some of the technologies and products that have gone into the hologram:

  • 3D renderings by Oscar-winning FX company
  • TACT (touch, real time analytics and control technologies)
  • Softkinetic sensor camera
  • Unity gaming engine
  • Musion Eyeliner projection technology
  • Reactive, REAL, custom designed, sound and sensory components

According to GE, this is largest audience-controlled hologram experience. It's probably the closest we'll get to building a jet engine, and being a part of the GEnx build — even a hologram version — sounds like an amazing achievement.

Top Image via creativeweek/Instagram; all others via GE

Related posts:

  1. Making Super Energy-Efficient Jet Engines (Infographic)
  2. Rolls-Royce Designing Energy-Efficient Propeller Engine
  3. Ford Introduces Smallest Engine Ever


Dumping Solar: Downstream U.S. Solar PV Businesses Join CASM, Case Against China’s Unfair Trade Practices

Posted: 09 May 2012 11:37 PM PDT

More than 200 US solar industry participants employing some 17,000 workers have joined CASM– the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, the industry/trade association announced yesterday. As it turns out, just 20 CASM members are manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems; 85% are involved not in solar energy manufacturing, but in downstream businesses, such as solar PV design and solar energy systems sales, marketing and installation, project development, consumer finance, solar energy systems integration and legal services.

Led by the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), critics of the unfair subsidies and dumping petitions against China CASM has lodged with the US Dept. of Commerce have focused on the make-up of the organization’s membership, asserting that its sacrificing solar PV market and jobs growth to protect its minority interest in the industry.

CASM’s membership has grown and diversified rapidly since it filed unfair trade petitions against China, however. The unfair trade petition and its arguments, coupled with a public relations campaign focused on its stated aim of standing “behind domestic manufacturing, sustainable production and fair, legal solar industry competition,” has proven successful, resulting in a membership that is now larger than that of its rival CASE. A list of CASM members is available on its website.

Growing Downstream Support for Combating Unfair Trade Practices

CASM continues to hammer away in support of one of the two central elements of its unfair trade petitions– that the Chinese government’s manufacturing and export subsidies violate international WTO trade rules.

“A group of Chinese manufacturers and importers makes demonstrably false claims about the portion of the industry, particularly installation workers, that it [CASM] represents,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the driving force behind CASM and the largest U.S. manufacturer, in a press release. “These claims are simply desperate attempts to detract attention from China’s anti-competitive trade practices.

“Fully 82 percent of Americans back domestic solar manufacturing. Second, CASM represents a clear majority of American solar manufacturing. Third, the 17,000 supporters of CASM comprise nearly one in five of the industry’s estimated 100,000 employees, and many of them work in downstream fields, mainly installation.”

Chinese manufacturing and export subsidies have played the primary role in surging global production of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar PV cells and panels. One industry participant recently estimated that current production levels are twice that of actual market demand. Some 95% of c-Si solar PV cells and panels manufactured in China have been exported, with domestic manufacturers benefiting from subsidies that CASM asserts violate WTO trade rules.

That’s led to carnage in solar manufacturing outside China. “At least 12 domestic U.S. manufacturers have shut down plants, declared bankruptcy or staged significant layoffs since 2010,” CASM notes.

Downstream solar PV CASM members, many of which are small- to medium-sized businesses, are now coming out publicly in support of its unfair trade petitions and drive to foster and better defend the domestic US solar PV industry value chain as well as manufacturing.

Indicative of such public support are statements from the likes of Delaware’s United Electric Supply, which employs some 300 people a national distributor of electrical products. “First and foremost we support U.S. jobs. Secondly, we support fair trade and want a level playing field so high-quality U.S. products can compete in the U.S. marketplace.”

The US International Trade Commission issued a preliminary ruling in which it unanimously found that China’s manufacturing and export subsidies are injuring domestic U.S. manufacturers. The Commerce Dept. on May 17 will announce the extent to which Chinese c-Si solar exporters have dumped cells and panels in the U.S. If they agree that this has been the case, Commerce will set countervailing duty margins that would be assessed on Chinese c-SI imports.

Related posts:

  1. Dumping Solar: CASM’s Case Against Chinese Subsidies & Manufacturers, Pt. III
  2. Dumping Solar: CASM’s Case Against Chinese Manufacturers & Subsidies, Pt. II
  3. US-China SolarTrade Dispute: The Case for CASM and US Manufacturing


Graphene Might Have a Plastic Cousin

Posted: 09 May 2012 04:59 PM PDT

Spanish research team makes acoustic graphene analog from plasticShake the family tree of a decidedly weird material like graphene and you never know what might fall out. In the most recent development, researchers in Spain have found that they can replicate a distinctive feature of graphene simply by drilling a pattern of holes in a sheet of plastic.

The discovery of a plastic “cousin” is significant because graphene has tantalizingly unique properties that could spark a new generation of smaller, lighter, more powerful and less energy-sucking electronic devices, but it is a notoriously finicky material.

Plastic, on the other hand, is – well, plastic.

Dirac cones and graphene

The key to the outstanding electronic properties of graphene is the "unusual relationship" between the two points of a double-cone feature called Dirac cones. Electrons accelerate to high speeds as they move up the cone, and that accounts for the incredibly fast movement of electrons through graphene.

Loosely speaking, the Dirac phenomenon is similar to those change-donation stations at museums, where a penny dropped into the wide end of an inverted cone gathers speed as it whirls toward a small hole at the bottom.

If Dirac cones can be identified in other, more stable materials, that could lead to more cost-effective ways of mass producing foundational materials for next-generation electronics.

A plastic version of graphene

The new study was published in Physical Review Letters by two researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Daniel Torrent and José Sánchez-Dehesa.

As a stand-in for graphene, they used a compound called methyl methacrylate, which in the form of poly methyl methacrylate is more commonly known as Plexiglass.

They drilled a pattern of cylindrical holes in the plastic sheet to mimic the lattice structure of carbon atoms in graphene, which resembles honeycomb or chickenwire. Each hole represented a carbon atom.

When exposed to carefully calibrated sounds from a loudspeaker, the surface of the plate produced acoustic waves that varied in relation to the depth and radius of the cylindrical holes.

According to the researchers, this phenomenon is analogous to the way that the lattice structure of graphene produces electronic waves.

As described in a recent article at physicsworld.com by editor Hamish Johnston, the researchers identified analogs to Dirac cones at about 22kHz, confirming their theoretical modeling.

The next step, according to Johnston, is to confirm that the acoustic waves also travel unimpeded across the sheet.

Applications for plastic “graphene”

Though practical applications for an acoustic Plexiglass version of graphene appear somewhat limited, the finding could be significant at the research end.

In its natural state, graphene comes in sheets of carbon only one atom thick. The researchers who discovered graphene in 2004 fabricated it by literally lifting a layer of carbon atoms from a chunk of graphite, a technique that is obviously lacking in quality control. Fabricating quantities of graphene with a consistent quality has bedeviled the field ever since.

With a cheap, easily manipulated material like Plexiglass at hand, researchers could use the acoustic analog as an initial step in graphene research, to predict the behavior of electrons under varying conditions.

Scientists at Columbia University have been working along these lines to create a simplified form of "artificial graphene" that could be used as a research tool in lieu of natural graphene.

Other graphene variants are under investigation at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, where researchers are using computer models to detect Dirac cones in graphynes, which are atom-thick carbon sheets that depart from the honeycomb structure of graphene.

At Manchester University, researchers are also tweaking graphene with hydrogen atoms to develop a sort of nano-sandwich called graphane, which could be cut into strips or ribbons for commercial use.

Image:  Some rights reserved by Lauren Manning.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

Related posts:

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NREL Publishes Cradle-to-Grave Assessment of Greenhouse Gases from Energy Sources

Posted: 09 May 2012 04:11 PM PDT

 

Renewables are widely assumed to generate far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, but a precise accounting of the differences in energy generation technologies has never been completed — until now.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed a new approach to determine the cradle-to-grave emissions profiles of various forms of energy generation. The results are not surprising, but will serve as an important input on long-term energy infrastructure decisions.

Two-Phase Process

Emissions were evaluated in two phases during the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Harmonization Project. First, analysts evaluated more than 2,100 published LCAs for electricity-generation technologies. Then, NREL developed a meta-analytical procedure called "harmonization" that applied common metrics to 25 percent of published references and accurately narrowed the large range of previous and distinct LCA estimates by up to 90 percent.

As expected, the LCA harmonization determined that renewables, even when considering component manufacturing and plant decommissioning, generate far fewer emissions than coal. Somewhat surprisingly, nuclear also placed within the lowest LCA emissions range of all renewables.

Harmonized LCA emissions profiles

Concentrated solar power (trough), wind energy (onshore and offshore), and nuclear (pressurized- and boiling-water) had the smallest emissions profiles, with median LCA emissions of 13 grams CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour (g CO2eq/kWh), 11-12 g CO2eq/kWh, and 12-13 g CO2eq/kWh, respectively. Concentrated solar power (tower) and photovoltaic solar’s median LCA were both slightly higher at 46 g CO2eq/kWh and 45 g CO2eq/kWh, respectively.

LCA emissions for coal were orders of magnitude higher than either renewables or nuclear. Median coal LCA emissions were 979 g CO2eq/kWh and maximum emissions were roughly 1,400 grams. The comparative numbers could not be more distinct — coal remains, by far, the greatest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions across the electricity-generation sector.

Wider Range of Non-Harmonized Results

While solar, wind, nuclear, and coal assessments were harmonized to produce much more accurate LCAs, the larger body of 2,100 as-published LCA estimates included all generation technologies (NREL does plan a harmonization of some of these technologies in the future). While the as-published estimates are less precise, the results are still quite informative.

As-published LCA estimates (non-harmonized)

The non-harmonized studies found geothermal power to be in the same LCA emissions range as concentrating solar power and wind energy, with 50-80 g CO2eq/kWh, while hydropower and ocean energy fell into the lowest range of all generation sources, with LCA emissions of 4-14 g CO2eq/kWh and 8-23 g CO2eq/kWh, respectively. One outlier to this set is reservoir hydropower, which has LCA emissions over 150 g CO2eq/kWh.

Biopower, generally defined, had the largest range of LCA emissions impact of all renewables at 16 to 360 g CO2eq/kWh, depending on the specific type of fuel source, with its maximum range overlapping with the minimum range for natural gas. Biopower’s higher emissions impact was attributed to land use changes and methane emissions from landfilling of biomass wastes.

Among fossil fuels, natural gas had the lowest median LCA emissions at around 500 g CO2eq/kWh and oil was second at around 850 g CO2eq/kWh. Both fuel sources remain worse polluters than renewables and nuclear, but still fall far below coal. However, when carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology is applied, natural gas LCA emissions fall within the range of all renewables and nuclear, while coal LCA emissions are reduced by roughly 75 percent.

Source: Phys.org
Coal power emissions image via Shuttertock

Related posts:

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Anti-Wind Propaganda Plot Exposed by DeSmogBlog

Posted: 09 May 2012 03:12 PM PDT

anti-wind-propaganda-ati-memo

DeSmogBlog has exposed the memo of a U.S. based propaganda plot to coordinate fossil-funded groups to turn public opinion against wind power. The memo crafted by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) was obtained by DeSmogBlog and written up at the British newspaper the Guardian.

ATI is the right-wing “think-tank” behind the lawsuit to harass hockey stick climatologist Michael Mann.

ATI’s exposed memo outlines the details of the new propaganda push to turn people against wind power by coordinating the efforts of all the other right-wing groups that are willing to destabilize the climate for centuries for the sake of $4 trillion in profits to be made by fossil energy before 2020.

The propaganda memo is laid out in full at the bottom of this page, but here are some highlights.

ATI recommends better organizing the attack and focusing it.

“Consider joining forces w some already established organization where there is substantial commonality and commitment (e.g. ATI, Heartland, IER, CEI, Marshall, Brookings, Cato, Manhattan, AfP, FW, CFACT, ALEC, NA-PAW, etc.).

The idea is to make wind power (or “puff power” as they suggest rebranding it) as unpopular as coal is, by funding scientific studies that:

“Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action based on the messages”

 ”so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).”

An example of this scientific study would surely be the NREL attempt to “harmonize” thousands of Life-Cycle Assessments (LCE) of the various energy sources, that appeared to be very obviously biased against renewables by using outdated technology when comparing renewables to fossil sources.

These studies “harmonized” (or averaged) by NREL analyzed outdated turbines from the 1970s that started at about 250 kW (a fraction of the current capacity) and so they averaged at about 600 kW each – rather than the current average size of about 2 MW – which would obviously skew the results.

“Create a "think-tank" subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back-up the message.”

(Or just ask respected government scientists like those at the NREL to “harmonize” a bunch of faulty papers with outdated data on wind turbine capacity.)

outdated-wind-turbines-propaganda

Comparing outdated technology in scientific papers to discredit wind benefits.

The reason for the focus on wind is presumably because wind has  been the first – out of all the new renewable sources now being developed to combat climate destabilization – that is seriously beginning to compete with centuries-old fossil sources like coal and natural gas on price and is possibly changing minds even in reliably red states.

While the biggest wind generating states are both red and blue states, an increasing number of red states like South Dakota and Iowa have so rapidly expanded their wind power that it now provides around 20 percent of each state’s  electricity. This begins to erode the Republican support for fossil energy.

The focus is very much on state level rebranding. The states have had much greater effect in creating the renewable energy sources that we need as a society because only the states have passed legislation requiring utilities use more renewable energy.

ATI specifies working with so-called “true environmentalists” - as opposed to environmentalists who work on reducing climate change?

“Identify and connect with like-minded groups such as tax, tea party, true environmentalists, business organizations, property rights advocates, etc.”

Here is the full memo (word doc) obtained by DeSmog Blog:

1: NATIONAL PR CAMPAIGN PROPOSAL
Draft from Rich Porter: 4/25/11. Edited by John Droz: 1/23/12
— CONFIDENTIAL —

PR Audiences:

Policy/Political
Local-State-Federal
Landowner/Lease Grantor
General Public (including non-rural population)
Tax Payer
Utility Rate Payer
Business Owner
Media
Academics
Students

PR Strategy:

Create a national professional Public Relations (PR) campaign to effectively communicate with the selected audiences using targeted messages. Have a consistent, positive, national message. Be FOR something (e.g. Science), not AGAINST something (e.g. wind energy). Be proactive vs reactive.

The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies. Resolve: are our interests just wind energy, or broader?

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target the identified audiences with consistent messaging to create positive change.  Public opinion must begin to change among citizens at large. Create a grass-roots ground swell from which the clamor for change will reach the elected officials and policy-makers.

The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including inputs from local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message. The message will be tested for resonance with the audiences, and the dynamic of the audience shall be periodically assessed.

In addition to have the appropriate message, it needs to be communicated optimally. We need to study and apply good communication skills.

Decide whether or not a national organization is advisable as well (Part 2).

Goals of the PR Campaign

A) Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action based on the messages.

B) Provide credible counter message to the (wind) industry.

C) Disrupt industry message with countermeasures.

D) Cause subversion  in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).

Ultimate Goal: Change policy direction based on the message.

Some PR Tactics:

Most of this could be done by volunteers without having a formal national organization. Discuss how this would work and who would have what responsibilities.

Consider joining forces w some already established organization where there is substantial commonality and commitment (e.g. ATI, Heartland, IER, CEI, Marshall, Brookings, Cato, Manhattan, AfP, FW, CFACT, ALEC, NA-PAW, etc.).

Provide training to local leaders regarding PR.

Provide local groups support materials, like PowerPoint templates to put on local education seminars, document templates for them to file with their state utility commission, etc.

Have a high-quality professional brochure available as a handout, that summarizes the situation with wind energy (e.g. Rasmussen).

Encourage critical thinking from members and the public.

Develop a list of experts for testimony to government agencies, etc.

Identify key topics (e.g. health) and get volunteers to act as a clearing house for information and posting timely information for activists on a website.

Assign key people to be media interfaces (those who are knowledgeable, can think on their feet, camera friendly, etc.)

Coordinate messages to address local, state and federal levels of lawmakers

Create some catch phrases of wind energy — e.g. puff power, breeze energy.

Setup a volunteer lobbying effort to reach key lawmakers

Identify and connect with like-minded groups such as tax, tea party, true environmentalists, business organizations, property rights advocates, etc.
2: NATIONAL ORGANIZATION PROPOSAL

Some Considerations Regarding a National Organization:

[Note: This is optional. All of the above PR would be done as well, but having a funded national organization would allow for a more comprehensive PR effort.]

Decide on the purpose of a national organization, and how it would interface with local groups. (E.g. local websites would primarily have info pertaining to the local issues. Education re wind energy would be handled nationally.)

Decide on the structure of a national organization, and where the funds would come from to support it.

Create a "think-tank" subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back-up the message.

Timely gathering of information as it appears in media outlets on this subject

Media Outreach & Response (communications) Committee will create and coordinate media contact campaigns. Use PR Newswire as the wind industry does currently.

Create advertising campaign for radio, TV, and alternative media.

Coordinate with signage, tee-shirts, hats, bumper stickers etc

Employ a well-known spokesman with star credibility. (Find one to volunteer?)

Develop corporate partnerships where the message goes onto bags, signs, tents and other outlets.

Start a "get people talking" campaign. Use controversy to spark ideas.

Youth Outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn't meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays etc).

Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards.

Social Media Outreach director/create coordination for message on web and in Twitter-type outreach, YouTube, etc.

Create counter-intelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization)

A team investigates links to any organization supporting wind in order to expose that support.

Provide alternative solutions for public consumption as well as re-branding of the current wind industry?

Write expose book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment.

Meme (self-replicating messages) Response Coordinator
(This will help slow the meme effect of the industry, for instance when a company places a seal showing wind power was used to produce the product, we automatically assign a tax wasting symbol to the product and recommend a boycott on the website.  When a company uses wind power as marketing tool, or illustration such as a toy manufacturer showing turbines on the box, we automatically contact them to tell them we will list them on the web as actively participating in disinformation by favorably showing wind turbines)

Legal Department for contract review and guidance on communication efforts, and also taking developers (etc.) to court on various issues to cause media exposure. Maintain a comprehensive collection of court cases on this subject. Also to provide legal voice for those who have none in this issue.  Develop legal strategies that can be copied in other areas.  Take zoning boards to court to rezone as industrial land to create chilling effect on signing contracts.  Also sue for property value loss to small land holders, and use all legal cases to create media poster child effect. Sue states regarding RPS. Sue state utility commission who don't do their job. Etc.

National Organization: Details and Narrative

The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change.  Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a "groundswell" among grass roots.   The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including interviews with local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message.  Those who hold opposing views must also be assessed.  The analysis will include scientific polls as well as focus groups to be used on a continuing basis from time to time to direct and focus the campaign on messages that are useful to the end goal.  As perceptions change over time, a barometer must be used to determine those changes and make dynamic adjustments in the message and campaign.

Proposed Structure of a National Organization

A paid, full time director will report to a board on which the director has a voting seat.  The director shall have one paid executive assistant.  The organization shall rely on a network of volunteer state committee chairpeople who are to coordinate efforts to disseminate the message in the state.  The chairperson shall make contacts and maintain them with various adhoc groups throughout the state that would benefit from the coordinated message.
The director shall make use of information gathering technology to stay abreast of developments in the media and industry and then coordinate appropriate messages accordingly.  This technology shall include a subscription to Nexis.

The director shall also develop and maintain contacts and coordinate their actions in regards to the message.

The organization shall maintain 501c3 and PAC status and shall coordinate lobby efforts at the congressional and state levels.

The director will make use of scientific research which is designed to gauge the response to the message and allow for the adjustment of the message from time to time.  The same research is also to determine the weaknesses in opposition messages for the purpose of exploiting them to the end goal of the campaign.

National Organization: Details and Narrative

The purpose of a national organization would be to do a better, quicker job at constructively influencing national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal might be to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change.  Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a "groundswell" among grass roots.   The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including interviews with local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message.  Those who hold opposing views must also be assessed.  The analysis will include scientific polls as well as focus groups to be used on a continuing basis from time to time to direct and focus the campaign on messages that are useful to the end goal.  As perceptions change over time, a barometer must be used to determine those changes and make dynamic adjustments in the message and campaign.

The amount of time and energy the campaign will consume will necessarily require a minimum of two paid positions with consideration for the addition of other paid positions as the campaign grows and is able to garner more funding.  A director will be appointed by a board, on which the director shall make material contributions to the direction the board takes in its approach.  The director should have at least one administrative assistant paid to help with work loads.  The work load of the director will likely exceed 60 hours per week and more if travel is included.  A travel budget should also be planned to allow the director to meet with key persons in the various states where the campaign will become active.

The director position assumes that volunteers are ready and willing to begin serving in various committee positions as soon as possible.  The beginning committees can be constituted by a board vote and should include the following for immediate activation:
Media
Science
Regional State Coordinators
Networking
Political / Lobby
Group Policy

The group policy committee will decide the key messages and focus and will use data from analysis and research to make its decisions.  The decisions from this committee will be used to guide the efforts of the organization in communicating with the prospective audiences.  This committee is responsible for analyzing and responding to the dynamics of the audiences over time, and is key to successfully implementing the strategy by identifying the correct arguments and tone for resonance among the audiences.

The media committee is responsible for implementing the message in a variety of media resources including traditional media, new media, social media and networking.  This committee will also be responsible for using analysis to determine the most appropriate packaging of the message for the various outlets.  It should consider what channels and voices to use in each instance.  This committee will have the responsibility of message integrity, that is, the continuity of message.  The committee will need resources for message positioning as well as utilizing free message placement techniques.

The science committee will be responsible for assembling a directorate of scientists with the proper credentials to be accepted by main stream media.  Those credentials are also important in making the scientific material harder to target and more difficult to tear down by the opposition.  This committee will coordinate with the directorate to develop a highly respectable collection of scientific white papers and reports that are consistent in their approach to supporting the messages chosen as most likely to succeed.  This committee will provide well respected scientists for media and political symposiums to be conducted to further establish the messages.  They will coordinate their efforts with other committees whose duties will include dissemination of the science.

The state and regional coordinators will be volunteers appointed to regional positions to remain in contact with the state leaders in their area.  They will ascertain the needs of the state and also local campaigns and be responsible for regularly reporting those needs to the organization so they can be addressed.  They will also be responsible for coordinating the flow of information in two directions between the organization and the state.  They should hold a monthly meeting where round –robin information sharing assures the flow of information up into the organization.  The coordinators will also individually be responsible for reaching out weekly to their state contacts to maintain a current picture of the situation on the ground, and should communicate any urgent state needs directly up to the director who should then coordinate the appropriate response.

The networking committee will be responsible for coordinating the response of networked groups with like-mind on our message. These will include the tea party, anti-tax leagues and utility rate groups as well as government watch-dog, anti-waste groups.  This committee will help spread our message to the network groups and then gather feed-back as to their interests and needs for further information from the organization.

Political and lobby committee is the coordinating arm for the message going to elected officials and contact with them in the capacity of lobby efforts.  This group ideally will be able to present a ground swell of public opinion in addition to facts that support the message.  The lobby efforts will include targeted opposition to current bills that continue the policy this organization opposes.   A coordination with the science committee is important to provide facts for lawmakers in a format they can understand easily.

Funding for a National Organization

The organization will need funding and a recommendation of $750,000 for seed and startup is probably a realistic number.  Printed materials, mailing, and the creation of a media packet, plus phone and computer links and information services.  Travel will be necessary as well.  The director should receive a salary of not less than $80,000 per year with an assistant receiving $35,000 per year.  The director should have experience in PR and media with the appropriate understanding of marketing techniques.  High level of creativity in developing media strategies, with emphasis on writing and communications.  This person must think outside the box and be willing to use the latest understanding of PR to counteract the opposing message and strategy across a broad range of audiences.

This is a recommendation to hire a professional fundraiser responsible for coordinating donations to both the 501c3 and Pac.  The fundraising efforts should be separated from the duties of the director so as not to interfere with the day to day activities needed to keep the campaign moving forward.

Example Scenario (for a National Organization)

In this example, the group policy committee has identified that a particular bill providing funding for the opposition has been advanced to committee for a hearing.  Policy committee has asked for a coordinated effort to stop the progress of the funding measure.

First, the lobby committee uses their contacts to begin a campaign from the inside against the bill with phone calls and private meetings.  They meet with several staffers who suggest that the bill is being supported because it has been moved as green legislation and several committee members are afraid to oppose it on that basis.  The lobby committee reports this to media and science for further action.

The media committee decides to use a full page advertisement in the Washington Post as a method of communicating the 'not so green truth' to congress, and at the same time coordinates a special interview and story from a scientific point of view that illustrates the dirty side of the industry.  At this same time, the science committee holds a press conference to announce that the industry is using dishonesty and "greenwashing" as a cover for what amounts to corporate welfare.

The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.

State regional coordinators are tapped at this time to provide a letter writing campaign from the grass roots asking the key legislators to back away from the funding measure.  This campaign is also echoed in various directorate groups coordinated from the organization including tea party, anti-tax leagues, etc.

The coordinated effort stretches across multi-channels and multi-voices, and appears to come from as many as a dozen separate sources, but the message is the same and stays on point.  The created barrage of voices provides enough cover that the elected officials have a way to vote no because they can clearly see they have support for our position.

CONCLUSION

A more consistent professional PR campaign is an absolute imperative. With well over a hundred US local groups fighting the same issue, it is clearly advisable that these people be on the same page. What sense does it make for each of these groups to be reinventing the wheel, and duplicating efforts?

There are several options as to how this can be implemented, ranging from the informal to the very structured.

The low cost alternative is to continue to rely on volunteers, and not to have a national organization. That can work, to a degree, but there still is a critical need for the numerous local groups across the country to work more closely together. Exactly how that can be best done is what needs to be resolved.

The more high-end approach would insure the widest distribution of the best message — but will require considerable time effort and funding. A national organization can not be accomplished without full-time people working to coordinate local efforts. Are we prepared to commit to that option at this point?

Establishing a national organization (if that is the chosen route) should be viewed as a long term project.  A three year plan should be developed that can offer some time table for expected results. Due to the size of this undertaking, this plan should include a roll-out period where a test of the organization can be made in a single state or region of states first, before going to a national format.

Related posts:

  1. False-Flag Wind NIMBY Catapaults Propaganda
  2. Anti-Nuclear Ads by Friends of the Earth
  3. Anti-AB32 Ballot Initiative Renamed by Democratic Governator-Candidate Jerry Brown


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