- UN Report – Switching to a Green Economy Might Mean Millions of Jobs
- UK’s Lincs JV Secures $662mm Project Financing for 270-MW Offshore Wind Farm
- Open Energy Information
- Bike Made of Wood Shavings (Beautiful One)
- Volkswagen Passat Sets New World Record for Longest Distance Traveled on a Single Tank of Fuel
- Midwest Cities Planning for EVs
- Residential Energy Consumption Per Household Dropping in US
- Coal’s Share of Electricity Generation Continues to Decline
- RGGI Rockin’ It — RGGI States Cut CO2 23% in 3 Years
- Chris Christie & New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Sued for Illegally Pulling Out of RGGI
- Solar Impulse Completes World Record Flight from Spain to Morocco
- 2013 Honda Fit EV Lands New EPA Fuel-Efficiency Record (118 MPGe)
Posted: 07 Jun 2012 09:36 AM PDT
It is encouraging to learn about the push for green jobs. The United Nations is pushing to create green jobs around the world, even in the midst of continuing economic slumps including Europe and the United States.
In a recent Guardian story, the U.N. has stated that tens of millions of new jobs can be created around the world in the next two decades – if green policies are put in place to switch the high-carbon economy to low-carbon.
According to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), up to 60 million jobs are a likely outcome. "The shift to a greener economy is creating employment across a range of sectors. In fact, an increasing number of assessments are showing that net gains are possible."
Such a switch to a green economy, if successful, could also help to lift millions of people out of poverty in a sustainable way, while providing benefits such as electricity and clean water that other parts of the world consider as a standard.
In the US, there are now about three million “green jobs“, in sectors such as wind power and energy efficiency, the study found. In the UK, the number is close to one million and has been one of the few areas of the economy that has been creating jobs. There are about 500,000 people working in green jobs in Spain. In the developing world, too, the number is growing rapidly – about 7% of people employed in Brazil, amounting to three million people, are now in the green economy.
However, according to the report, realizing the full potential of green jobs depends on countries taking action to develop the green economy and bringing in policies that foster investment.
Some of the sectors identified in the report as being most affected by the changes include: agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, resource-intensive manufacturing, recycling, building and transport.
Posted: 07 Jun 2012 07:55 AM PDT
Centrica plc-DONG Energy-Siemens Project Ventures GmbH joint venture Lincs Wind Farm Ltd. has secured non-recourse project finance facilities of £425 million ($662.15 million) for its 270-MW Lincs offshore wind farm. A consortium of 10 commercial banks has joined to provide the financing, the Centrica announced today.
The partners began constructing the mega offshore wind farm in 2010. First power is expected in this year’s second half, with the wind farm fully operational in the first half 2013.
Centrica owns 50% of the Lincs offshore wind farm, DONG Energy 25%, and Siemens Project Ventures 25%. The syndicate of 10 commercial banks is comprised of Abbey National Treasury Services, BNP Paribas, Nordea Bank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Unicredit Bank, DNB Bank, HSBC Bank, KfW IPEX-Bank, Lloyds TSD, and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
Centrica was created as a result of the February 1997 demerger of the former British Gas plc. Operating in six countries and employing more than 34 thousand, Centrica generated revenue of GBP22.8 billion ($35.52 billion) and earnings per share of 25.8 pence ($0.40) in 2011.
Natural gas distribution, storage, and increasingly upstream activities continue to be the mainstay of the company’s operations, though management has made sourcing, distribution, and storage of low-carbon renewable power a strategic priority. That’s come to include the 270-MW Lincs offshore wind farm located 8 km (~5 miles) off east central England’s Lincolnshire County coast.
Construction on the Lincs offshore wind farm began in March. The offshore wind farm project is one of five Centrica renewable energy projects in the Greater Wash area, one that the UK government selected for offshore wind farm development in 2002.
The Lincs project site is located adjacent to Centrica’s Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farms (194-MW rated capacity), which have been generating clean, renewable electricity since March, 2009. Seventy-five Siemens 3.6-MW turbines with combined rated capacity of 270-MW are to be installed, enough to supply some 200,000 households.
The electricity Lincs’ generates will flow into the grid via an interconnection provided by National Grid at Walpole in West Norfolk. Cables buried in the seabed will carry electricity to an onshore substation, where an extension to the substation will raise the voltage from 132kV to 400kV before delivering it into the grid. The JV has opted to bury the onshore cables to avoid the visual impact of overhead power lines and pylons.
Posted: 07 Jun 2012 02:34 AM PDT
OpenEI: Open Energy Information for Entrepreneurs, Scientists, and Community (via Ecopreneurist)
Open Energy Information (OpenEI) is a knowledge sharing online community dedicated to connecting people with the latest information and data on energy resources from around the world. By providing access to energy-related information via geographic discovery, unique visualizations, and topic-oriented…
Posted: 07 Jun 2012 02:12 AM PDT
This is a truly beautiful bike, in my opinion. It’s also no clunker — it’s very well designed and built, and it commands a pretty daunting €6,000 price tag. Yeah, it won’t be making it into my hands any time soon.
Of course, this isn’t the first wooden bike ever, and not even the first innovative, eco-friendly wooden bike of the 21st century (see: Wooden Bikes from Urban Trees), but it’s pretty unique. Here’s more on the beauty from Andrew Meggison of Gas2:
It Is Not Only Green But A Work Of Art (via Gas 2.0)
Without question, a traditional pedal bicycle is the greenest vehicle on the road today. Some bikes are getting an even more sustainable treatment, being built from materials such as bamboo. Axalko Bikes has created a very unique bike made out of wood shavings. If you saw this wooden bike pass you…
Posted: 07 Jun 2012 01:53 AM PDT
Volkswagen Passat Sets New World Record (via Gas 2.0)
John and Helen Taylor – also known as "the world's most fuel efficient couple" have set a new world record for the longest distance traveled on a single tank of fuel. The new record to beat is 1,626.1 miles. The Taylor's used a stock 2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI powered by a 2.0-liter TDI…
Posted: 07 Jun 2012 01:45 AM PDT
by Dan Haugen
Independence, Missouri, is the kind of place where when someone buys an electric car it's unusual enough that the local newspaper writes a story about it.
Stan Adkins of Cable-Dahmer Chevrolet sold a second Chevy Volt last month.
Adkins is a big believer in the car, but he doesn't expect many sales in this Kansas City suburb until residents are more confident they'll be able to plug them in when and where they need a charge.
"If you see public charging stations beginning to appear, it's going to minimize some fear or reluctance that people might have in considering electric vehicles," Adkins said.
Over the winter, Adkins helped start Electrify Independence, a civic committee focused on bringing the first public charging station to Independence by the end of the year.
Independence is among several cities and counties in the Midwest that are starting to plan new policies and infrastructure to support the growth of electric vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded electric vehicle "community readiness" grants last fall to projects in Ohio, Michigan and the Kansas City area.
Other metros, including the Twin Cities, are moving ahead without federal funding.
What they have in common is questions about where to put charging stations, how to handle zoning and permits, and how to create a consistent experience for users.
Where to put charging stations?
A conversation is underway in Independence and elsewhere about the best places to put electric vehicle charging stations.
Adkins' short list includes places like the local hospital, hockey arena, shopping mall and genealogy center.
"Those are high-profile places that are high traffic, destination locations," Adkins said. "People drive there from far away."
Electrify Independence has support from the city's municipal utility. Ideally, the first charging station will be installed where there is another partner to help pay for it.
It's also important that the city's first public charging station be in a place where it gets used, said Tom Lesnak, president of the Independence Economic Development Council.
"The last thing you want is a charging station in front of city hall and it takes up a prime parking spot and it isn't getting used by someone with an electric vehicle," Lesnak said.
The work happening in Independence is being supported by a broader, regional program calledElectrify Heartland, which received a $441,178 DOE grant in September.
Grant manager Ruth Redenbaugh said various committees are working on government, infrastructure, utility grid, and public education issues.
Red tape, fine print
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, the city council passed an electric vehicle ordinance last summer that, among other things, encourages developers to plan for charging stations.
"Being the home of Chrysler, we wanted to lead in preparing for this particular industry," said Steve Cohen, Auburn Hills' community development director.
The ordinance asks developers of new parking lots or structures to include electrical conduits for future charging stations at 2 percent of their parking spaces.
Including the conduit isn't mandatory, but all 12 developments built since the ordinance have included the conduit, and two installed charging stations, Cohen said.
Adding the extra electrical conduit during construction adds only pennies to a project's cost, whereas ripping up concrete later would cost hundreds, he said.
The same ordinance also clarified and simplified the permitting requirements for charging stations, which weren't specifically addressed previously.
The Auburn Hills work is being supported in part by the Clean Energy Coalition, which received a $500,000 DOE grant to develop a statewide plan for electric vehicles in Michigan.
Project Manager Heather Seyfarth said they've learned many cities don't have specific language for electric vehicles in the permitting, zoning or planing rules.
She said it's unclear whether cities can require developers to install conduits for charging stations, but Auburn Hills offers a model for encouraging that infrastructure.
Creating a consistent experience
Minneapolis-St. Paul wasn't one of the regions chosen for a DOE grant, but it's gone ahead anyway with a regional EV planning effort called Drive Electric Minnesota.
The committee includes representatives from city, county and state governments, as well as major employers like Best Buy, and the state's largest utility, Xcel Energy. It also includes Fresh Energy, which publishes Midwest Energy News.
Among the priorities: coming up with consistent signs and education materials to be used across the Twin Cities metro area.
"We wanted to have a seamless experience, so if someone was coming to downtown St. Paul to go to a Wild game at the Xcel Center, their experience is going to be similar to going to a Twins game or going to the metropolitan airport," says Anne Hunt, environmental policy director for the city of St. Paul.
"We're sharing information when we meet every couple of months," said Fran Crotty of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. "That's been really valuable as we move ahead."
Sharing information is one of the goals of the Energy Department's Clean Cities program, which awarded $8.5 million in grants to 16 regions last fall.
A requirement for all of the awardees is to prepare a report and presentation.
"We want other cities to be able to use their best ideas," said Linda Bluestein, national co-director of the DOE's Clean Cities program.
Bluestein compares the planning effort to the work that went into getting ready for E85 ethanol. There's a big need for education and infrastructure, she said.
The Energy Department grants are in support of President Obama's goal to have 1 million alternative technology vehicles on the road by 2015.
If those cars are distributed evenly by population, Independence could expect to see another 360 electric cars over the next few years, according to Redenbaugh.
That's a rough forecast, but Electrify Independence is sure of one thing, said Lesnak:
"There's going to be more electric cars, not less."
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 06:59 PM PDT
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey.
Note: Includes occupied, primary housing units only.
Total U.S. energy consumption in homes has remained relatively stable for many years as increased energy efficiency has offset the increase in the number and average size of housing units, according to the latest results from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). The average household consumed 90 million British thermal units (Btu) in 2009, based on RECS data. This continues the downward trend in average per-household energy consumption of the last 30 years. Improvements in efficiency for space heating, air conditioning, and major appliances have all led to decreased consumption per household, despite increases in the number of homes, the average size of homes, and the use of electronics. Newer homes also tend to feature better insulation and other characteristics, such as double-pane windows, that improve the building envelope.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey.
Notes: Graph includes occupied, primary housing units only. Expenditures reflect utility bills for fuels delivered to the residential sector. States are listed by postal code.
RECS characteristics data, released in early 2011, showed an increasing number of televisions, computers, and other electronic devices that add to household plug loads as well as the greater use of energy-efficient appliances. The first set of consumption and expenditures data tables, released this week, shows total and average energy consumption and expenditures by regional, structural, and demographic characteristics. The next RECS data release this summer will include energy use for each fuel and by specific end use.
This article was originally published on the EIA website.
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 06:52 PM PDT
Amid historically low natural gas prices and the warmest March ever recorded in much of the United States, coal’s share of total net generation dropped to 34%—the lowest level since at least January 1973 (the earliest date for which EIA has monthly statistics). Despite seasonally low loads, natural gas-fired generation grew markedly and accounted for 30% of overall net generation by March 2012 (see chart above). Total electricity demand fell this winter as warmer weather reduced home heating requirements.
Coal generation decreased 29 billion kilowatthours from March 2011 to March 2012, while natural gas generation increased 27 billion kilowatthours during the same time period. In March 2012, coal’s share of total generation was 34% compared to natural gas at 30%.
Natural gas prices were near 10-year lows this winter, leading the generators in some states (such as Ohio and Pennsylvania) to increase their dispatch of natural gas-fired plants. Newer vintage natural gas-fired units operate at higher efficiency than older, fossil-fired units, which increases the competitiveness of natural gas relative to coal.
For a regional analysis of generation and consumption in March 2012 compared to March 2011, see the Electricity Monthly Update. For national and state-level statistics, see the Electric Power Monthly.
This article was originally published on the EIA website.
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 06:47 PM PDT
According to the program administrator of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — a nine-state cap-and-trade market established in the Northeast in 2008 — average annual CO2 emissions have fallen by 23 percent compared to emission levels before the start of the program:
And the predictions of economic collapse and suffering ratepayers? Not happening.
The progress report follows a study from the Analysis Group finding that RGGI added $1.6 billion in value to the economies of participating states, setting up ratepayers for more than $1.1 billion in savings through improved efficiency and development of renewable energy. All this activity created 16,000 jobs in the first three years of the program.
"Five years ago, critics were saying climate programs like RGGI couldn't succeed in the U.S.," said David Littell, Commissioner of the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Vice-Chair of RGGI, in a statement.
"Now, we are seeing significant emissions reductions in the context of economic recovery as we switch to cleaner fuels and learn to use energy smarter. In fact, RGGI has allowed companies to stay competitive and reduce their energy expenditures to weather the recession and come out stronger."
In April, Environment New Jersey issued an analysis showing that states participating in RGGI reduced emissions 20 percent faster and grew GDP twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. through 2009. However, that report was not a completely accurate picture of the impact of RGGI, as it only took into consideration the first year of the program.
RGGI is a very modest emissions trading market designed to reduce CO2 in the power sector 10% below 1990 levels by the end of 2018. Participating states include: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
When first implemented with bi-partisan support, administrators assumed it would lower utility CO2 emissions by as much as 35 percent compared to a business-as-usual scenario. However, administrators didn't foresee such a dramatic drop in emissions so quickly.
The steep decline in utility-sector emissions occurred due to a decline in coal generation, a switch to natural gas, and the economic downturn. An executive at the Massachusetts power company National Grid explained that CO2 was falling because of the "effects of RGGI on top of that."
The emissions picture is complicated and certainly different than expected in 2008. But the outcome — reduced coal use, lower emissions, and greater deployment of renewables and efficiency — is exactly what was intended.
It's also the exact opposite of what opponents claimed would happen.
Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed group at the forefront of spreading lies about cap and trade, absurdly claimed that RGGI would raise rates by 90%. RGGI's impact on rates has been so negligible, pulling out the cost "would be like factoring in the cost of mowing the lawn at the power plant or factoring in the property taxes," explained Seth Kaplan of the Conservation Law Foundation.
And last spring, a bill was introduced in the New Hampshire legislature that would have pulled the state out of RGGI. The legislation copied language from a "model" bill developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a "stealth business lobbyist" that helps large corporate interests write laws for a fee.
The ALEC-written language in the bill said that RGGI had "increased consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food."
After three years of experience, the data shows that RGGI has played a part in lowering emissions, helped businesses deploy more clean energy, and done so by adding very little upfront costs to ratepayers.
Once again, real world experience proves that absurd doomsday scenarios about cap and trade pushed by pundits and political disinformers are wrong.
This article was originally published on Climate Progress and has been reposted with permission.
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 06:43 PM PDT
Administration Put Dirty Energy Interests Ahead of New Jersey Residents and State's Economic Health
TRENTON, N.J. (June 6, 2012) – Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection failed to follow legal due process and safeguard the economic and health interests of New Jersey citizens when pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a 10-state compact that is cutting harmful air pollution from power plants and shifting investments to clean energy, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environment New Jersey.
"RGGI offers Garden State residents enormously popular benefits —cleaner air, healthier kids, homegrown jobs, lower energy bills and more money for the state," said NRDC senior attorney Luis Martinez. "It's no surprise that a program like this has strong support in the statehouse and among New Jersey residents. Governor Christie should heed their call and stick with the program, rather than listen to out-of-state interests in the dirty fuel industry that are calling for him to drop out."
"Governor Christie unilaterally made his decision to leave RGGI – without taking any input from stakeholders or the public," said Matt Elliott, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey. "As we contend today, his actions are not only bad public policy, but also illegal. The people of New Jersey have spoken out overwhelmingly in support of RGGI – to date, over 50,000 New Jerseyans have called or written their elected officials urging them to stand up for RGGI . And the Legislature has passed a series of measures affirming their support of the program. And yet, the governor refuses to listen, and insists on ignoring the people and their elected representatives. We won't stand by and let this happen."
The groups filed the lawsuit today in the Superior Court, Appellate Division in Trenton against the New Jersey DEP for effectively dissolving the program, which has strong support from the public and the state legislature, without the open discussion that state law requires. The New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act requires the Governor and his administration to provide notice of their intention to repeal a regulation like this, as well as give the public reasonable opportunity to comment before finally deciding whether or not to move forward with a repeal. Given this, the groups contend that the program is still law, and the administration, and New Jersey utilities, must abide by it.
In May 2011, Governor Christie announced an end to New Jersey's participation in RGGI. The following week the state DEP Commissioner declared the state's withdrawal from initiative would be effective at the end of the calendar year. The Governor's actions, closely followed by DEP's, effectively repealed the state's participation in the program, while ignoring the requirements of the state's Administrative Procedure Act to provide New Jersey residents and businesses with an opportunity to shape the Administration's position by publicly describing the program's benefits and countering the claims of oil industry-funded opponents.
In the past year, the state legislature has twice voted to keep New Jersey participating in RGGI. The first bill that passed was vetoed by the Governor last summer. The second bill was passed again last month and is currently on Governor Christie's desk.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a program between 10 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that is reducing harmful air pollution from power plants, making polluters pay for their emissions, and investing those payments in clean energy projects that grow the economy and further cut fossil fuel dependence. In doing so, it is generating revenue for the state, lowering energy costs for consumers, and creating jobs in the energy efficiency and clean energy sectors that can't be shipped overseas. It achieves these goals by ensuring that residents send less of the money they pay for electricity out of their states to import coal and other fossil fuels. Instead, more of it goes back into their local communities to make homes, offices and factories more energy efficient, and invest in solar and wind energy.
Study after study shows RGGI is working just as it was designed. Region-wide, it has created 16,000 job-years' worth of work (one job year is one year's worth of work). It has generated more than $1.6 billion of economic activity, and has helped achieve a 23 percent reduction in harmful air pollution that inflames cardiovascular health problems in adults and children and contributes to climate change.
During New Jersey's participation in RGGI, the sale of pollution permits has generated $159 million in local benefits, including $125 million for the state to invest in local, job-creating energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. As a result, it created 1,800 job-years worth of work.
These numbers could have been even more impressive – as they were in other participating states – had Governor Christie not diverted more than half of those funds to plug budget holes. A recent report by Environment New Jersey shows that, by staying in RGGI and working with participating states to further improve the program, New Jersey could realize up to $680 million in additional revenue for clean energy projects.
New Jersey voters strongly support RGGI. A poll conducted for NRDC last year showed that the large majority of voters supported the goals of the program.
This article was originally published on the NRDC website.
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 06:01 PM PDT
As I noted back in March, the Solar Impulse, a 100% solar-powered plane that likes to set world records a few times a year, was aiming for another one this week — 2,500 km (1,550 miles). It completed this trip yesterday to indeed set the record.
This is actually just a stepping stone to a full around-the-world journey the Swiss plane is scheduled to perform in 2014.
“The Swiss solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, touched down to a warm welcome in Rabat, Morocco last night, flying from Madrid and successfully completing the second leg of its record-breaking 2,500-kilometer intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco,” a news release just published moments ago announced.
“Mustapha Bakkoury, President, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, (MASEN), joined in welcoming pilot Bertrand Piccard, who called the flight over the Strait of Gibraltar ’a magical moment’ and noted that Solar Impulse made the trip ‘without one drop of fossil fuel.’ In Morocco, the Solar Impulse team will join events highlighting the convergence and capacity of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and at the invitation of MASEN, which oversees Morocco’s solar energy development.
“The solar-powered flight coincides with construction launch in southern Morocco of the world’s largest solar thermal plant, a World Bank-financed project commencing in Ouarzazate that will harness the Sahara sun to produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy for North Africa and Europe and create jobs for many in the area. Ouarzazate is the solar plane’s next destination, after a five-day stopover in Rabat.”
A big congrats to the Solar Impulse team, the blooming solar industry, and Morocco. Solar-powered planes aren’t going to rule the sky any time soon, but this is just another landmark on the solar power’s exciting journey forwards, and the aviation sector’s journey forward as well. I don’t think anyone envisioned how far we’d come in about 100 years when the Wright brothers made their landmark flight in 1903.
For more on the Solar Impulse’s journey to this new record, check out:
Source: Morocco on the Move
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 05:35 PM PDT
The Ford Focus Electric landed the EPA’s most “fuel-efficient car” rating ever in March with a combined fuel efficiency of 105 MPGe (and 110 MPGe in the city). The Mitsubishi i came along and topped that with a combined MPGe of 112. Now, the 2013 Honda Fit EV has received the EPA’s highest rating ever with a 118 MPGe combined fuel efficiency. Congrats to Honda! (But how long will it hold the title?)
In a news release on the announcement, Honda notes: “with an unprecedented low consumption rating of just 29 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 miles and low EPA rated annual fuel cost of $500, the fun-to-drive 2013 Honda Fit EV can help consumers get more miles for each charging dollar.”
The EV has an estimated combined city/highway driving range of 82 miles, beating its competitors (Ford Focus Electric = 76 miles, Nissan Leaf = 73, Mitsubishi i = 62), due to its efficient design and 20-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. The battery is smaller than what’s in the Leaf (24-kWh Li-ion battery) and Ford Focus Electric (23 kWh), but apparently powers the more efficiently designed car a bit further.
“Additionally, the Fit EV battery can be recharged in less than 3 hours from a low charge indicator illumination point when connected to a 240-volt circuit,” the company notes.
And, apparently, the car will have quite a bit of power behind it. ”The Fit EV’s 92 kilowatt (123 horsepower) coaxial electric motor generates 189 ft-lb of torque, and is teamed to a chassis with a fully-independent suspension and a driver-selectable 3-mode electric drive system adapted from the CR-Z Sport Hybrid.”
2013 Honda Fit EV leasing is supposed to begin in certain California and Oregon markets this summer, and the car should hit the East Coast in 2013.
What do you think? Into the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, Nissan Leaf, or Honda Fit EV the most?
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