tagged w/ Renewables
The government website that tracks stimulus spending lists 27,226 individual awards under the "Energy/ Environment" section, totaling just shy of $34 of the $50 billion. That figure doesn't include things like high speed rail and smart meters, which are among the 43,000-plus "infrastructure" awards.
The Brookings Institution put green stimulus spending at $51 billion. From 2009 to 2014, Brookings estimates the federal government will spend over $150 billion from both stimulus and non-stimulus funds on green initiatives.
http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/03/news/economy/green-stimulus/index.htmlThe government website that tracks stimulus spending lists 27,226 individual awards... more
As demonstrators from the Coalition Against Nukes prepare to descend on Washington DC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the world’s third-largest economy has taken a landmark step toward Solartopia.
A pro-nuclear Japanese government has announced it will phase out all commercial reactors by 2040.
It comes as atomic power continues to plummet and reactors go dark in Germany, France, Quebec, California and elsewhere.
Japan’s announcement has gotten mixed domestic reviews. Powerful industrial leaders say it’s unrealistic. Some reports indicate the government intends to proceed with new reactors already on order. But a burgeoning grassroots No Nukes movement is demanding a faster phase-out of existing reactors and is sure to put up fierce resistance to any new ones being built, whether they’re on the books now or not.
In any event, this latest announcement, coming from an intensely pro-nuclear administration, virtually rules out Japan’s long-standing vision of building a new generation of large commercial reactors. So much for the Japanese edition of the “nuclear renaissance.”
In principle, Japan has joined Germany in moving to end the nuclear age. The world’s fourth-largest economy—the biggest in Europe—Germany has shut 8 of its 19 reactors and will have the rest down by 2022. Like Japan, Germany has been at the core of the global reactor industry, and once harbored plans for many more. Now it has plunged deep into the business of renewables, with heavy emphasis on wind and solar.
All but two of Japan’s fifty-plus reactors remain shut. Its No Nukes movement has soared since Fukushima, with mass marches frequently in the tens of thousands. Despite dire industry predictions, Japan survived a nuke-free summer without major blackouts.
The aggressively pro-nuclear administration of Noda Yoshihiko has met fierce grassroots resistance against forcing open two reactors, and is expected to lose upcoming elections. Its advocacy of a long phase-out was meant to placate both industrial and No Nukes interests, but has angered both.
Japan remains at the center of the global industry. Key heavy components are still manufactured there. But bitter debate about the health impacts of Fukushima has escalated. New reports cast serious doubt on the integrity of safety regulations, and on the wisdom of siting so many reactors near earthquake faults and in coastal areas threatened by tsunamis.
The industry’s decline has been accelerated in France, where the new Socialist Prime Minister Francois Hollande says he’ll shut an embattled reactor at Fessenheim “as soon as possible.” Public opinion polls show substantial support for a shift to renewables.
A new government in Quebec will shut Gentilly II. In California, new reports on the cold San Onofre 2 & 3 indicate deep problems that make a re-start more doubtful than ever. And a whistleblower has warned that flood damage at Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun reactor may be more serious than previously believed.
Riding the wave of anti-nuclear news is a September 20-22 series of DC events organized by the Coalition Against Nukes. The action starts Thursday with a rally on the Capitol Mall, a Congressional briefing and an evening gathering and concert. Friday opens with a ceremony at the Native American Museum, followed by a demonstration at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland, and evening film showings at DC’s Letelier Theater. Saturday concludes with a day-long strategy session. With activists convening from around the US and Japan, the gathering promises to lend the No Nukes movement new focus.
They’ll be dissecting an industry in steep decline. Germany and Japan’s phase-out decisions mean two of the industry’s key players will build no more nukes. The four reactors barely under construction in the US are already plagued with structural and financial problems, and are under intense political fire.
As Germany, Japan, France, Quebec and so many others leap toward Solartopia, the future of wind, solar and a green-powered future looks ever more promising.
By Harvey Wasserman, September 17, 2012. Source: The Free Press
More at the linkAs demonstrators from the Coalition Against Nukes prepare to descend on Washington DC... more
The Zofnass Program, Georgoulias explained, was founded in 2008 by siblings Paul and June Zofnass, with the aim of developing and disseminating methods that effect and quantify sustainability for infrastructure projects. As part of their efforts, the programs professors and industry partners developed a system of uniform, voluntary guidelines for sustainable construction that have already been adopted by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Public Golf Association and others.The Zofnass Program, Georgoulias explained, was founded in 2008 by siblings Paul and... more
For most, development of a wind farm would seem the height of sustainability itself. By implication its creation will lead to at least to a reduction of dependence of fossil-fuel generation.
But such a flat-out assumption could be wrong according George Kendrick, environmental scientist and senior principal for Stantec, a project management firm and engineering consultancy in the US.
“Renewable energy sources like wind power are seen as vital components of sustainable infrastructure across the country, but balancing their benefits with their impacts and finding ways to measure those benefits can be challenging," he says.
That notion is a driver behind “Sustainability Aspects of Large-Scale Wind Developments,” the chapter Kendrick contributed to the new book, Infrastructure Sustainability and Design, produced by the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure.For most, development of a wind farm would seem the height of sustainability itself.... more
The big news out of the CERN research center near Geneva broke on the Fourth of July -- on what we Americans celebrate as Independence Day -- and as the headlines streamed across the Internet yesterday one thing seemed clear:
Will the Higgs boson change the pursuit of a renewables-based future?
The apparent discovery of the Higgs boson particle may be as portentous an event in the history of the world -- and then some -- as the signing of an oversized parchment declaration on a summer's day 236 years ago.The big news out of the CERN research center near Geneva broke on the Fourth of July... more
Before Michael Liebreich established New Energy Finance in 2004, those who were deeply interested in renewable energy were essentially typecast into two distinct folds -- either they were engineers and scientists or Birkenstock-wearing granola eaters.http://bit.ly/HZsotu Before Michael Liebreich established New Energy Finance in 2004,... more
Shot through these principles -- originally codified in March 2011 by the Low Carbon Finance Group, a body of the leading capital providers that provides input to government and regulatory bodies on renewable energy policy in the UK -- is the belief that good policy design reduces risk and there makes financing interventions more effective.Shot through these principles -- originally codified in March 2011 by the Low Carbon... more
How was it that in the worst possible days for the continent’s banks and financial infrastructure, dreamers could still dream big and have a reasonable expectation that their wind farm, solar facility or tidal energy array could indeed rise up along the horizon?How was it that in the worst possible days for the continent’s banks and... more
The future of the federal production tax credit (PTC) hangs in the balance, but analysts say major players with the right level of research and development are well-placed to compete in US’ increasingly competitive wind energy market.The future of the federal production tax credit (PTC) hangs in the balance, but... more
Nathalie Miebach may not yet be a household name, but the Boston Massachusetts-based artist and 2011 TED Global Fellow, has already staked out a reputation as one of America’s most original-thinking and innovative sculptors.The daughter of an engineer who spent a quarter century working on the Hubble space telescope, Miebach’s art focuses on the intersection of creativity and science and the visual articulation of scientific observations.Nathalie Miebach may not yet be a household name, but the Boston Massachusetts-based... more
Now we have to consider something else, which when you do a comparison on the basis of single technologies, you are doing something wrong because this does not take into account the volatility of prices, especially fuel prices. This is the level of risk you have when you build comparison systems. In fact, It is my belief that when we talk about renewables, we should do so from the perspective of the portfolio theory that is widely used in finance, where you have some assets that have high risk and high return and others that have lower risk and therefore lower returns. Renewables are very low risk.Now we have to consider something else, which when you do a comparison on the basis of... more
Say what you will about climate change – and even at this late date, divergent opinions abound – for those whose livelihood is rooted in the ground and for whom terroir is everything, the debate ended a long time ago. Several wineries around the world are turning to renewables energy and energy efficiency to fight the good fight, while others are rapidly moving in this direction.
http://bit.ly/vtKMjOSay what you will about climate change – and even at this late date, divergent... more
Eight19, a Cambridge, England-based solar firm specializing in off-grid applications, has kicked off the launch of IndiGo, a pay-as-you-go, personal solar electricity system for the developing world.Eight19, a Cambridge, England-based solar firm specializing in off-grid applications,... more
Pegasus Global Holdings, a Washington, DC-based technology development firm, is building a full-scale town on 20-square miles of New Mexico desert in the US that it says will be an incubator and laboratory for green energy, smart grids, cyber security and other innovations intended to enhance the way people live.Pegasus Global Holdings, a Washington, DC-based technology development firm, is... more
Ag-West Bio, a federally- and provincially-funded bioscience investment fund in Saskatchewan (Canada), has begun a study looking at feedstock production, processing requirements and potential commercial partners for a new generation of bio-jet fuels.Ag-West Bio, a federally- and provincially-funded bioscience investment fund in... more
Surprisingly, these influential and outspoken panellists, who you might expect would have opposing views on just about everything, seem to be having a candid, but surprisingly civil conversation about a very controversial subject: was it something in the water?Surprisingly, these influential and outspoken panellists, who you might expect would... more
The iij Top 10 upcoming innovative investment books
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Flickr user davipt, Creative Commons LicenseDuring the State of the Union address earlier this week, President Barack Obama spoke at length about clean energy, with nary a mention of climate change. This is the new environment in which America’s energy policy is being made.
Just two years ago, Democrats were rallying to combat climate change, one of the most worrying challenges the country faces. But now, Obama has apparently given up his plan to openly fight climate change during his presidency. It’s hard to imagine how, even in a second term, he would choose to re-fight the lost battle to create a cap-and-trade system.
The Obama Administration has instead resorted to a sort of insurgent strategy. Instead of waging an all-out battle against energy interests, the U.S. government will try to chip away at the edges of the industry’s power and rally citizens’ allegiances to a new flag, that of “clean energy.”
Climate bill’s absence is smothering clean energy
Since Washington hasn’t succeeded at tackling climate change head on, Obama’s new strategy is to attack the problem obliquely by promoting innovation in clean energy and setting goals for the use of technologies like electric cars. But can clean energy efforts and innovations thrive in the absence of a wholesale climate policy? When a climate bill was still a possibility, clean energy entrepreneurs were promising substantial investments in the sector, if only Congress could give them a framework. And as Monica Potts explains at The American Prospect, in the absence of a climate bill, clean energy has flagged:
What’s been problematic about the president’s approach up to now is that, despite his efforts to pump funding into the clean-energy sector, as he did with about $90 billion of the stimulus, renewable energy hasn’t taken off. Obama had a line in his speech that summed up why this is so: “Now, clean-energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean-energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling.”
Short on influence
It’s possible that clean energy investors will take the President’s new promise as incentive enough to push forward. But, they will also have to consider the influence of the newly empowered Republicans. Mother Jones‘ Kate Sheppard isn’t convinced that the president’s new tactic will stick:
“There are plenty of people—and most of them happen to be Republicans—who don’t think that policies to support clean energy are worthwhile and who will oppose any attempt to move away from them,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, this latest iteration of the Obama climate and energy plan includes few of the driving forces that would actually make renewables cost-competitive in the near future and allow renewables to compete (the big one being, of course, a price on carbon pollution).”
When “clean” energy includes coal
Another weak point in the President’s new strategy is his reliance on the vague idea of clean energy, which becomes dirtier the more it is used. As Sheppard writes, “Environmental groups weren’t all that excited about the inclusion of “clean coal” and nuclear in that mix, but that’s pretty broadly expected as the price one must pay to draw broader support for a clean energy standard.”
Another key source of clean energy is natural gas. In Washington, it’s become a given that natural gas, which releases less carbon when burned than coal or oil, will help the country transition away from its high-carbon diet and be phased out as energy sources like solar and wind become more viable. (The natural gas industry, of course, doesn’t see its role as transitional. It’s playing for keeps.)
And while some places are rightly celebrating the freedom that natural gas gives them from coal—as Care2’s Beth Buczynski reports, Penn State is investing $35 million to convert its coal-fired power plant to natural gas over the next three years—other places are bearing the environmental toll of this new, clean fuel. In North Carolina, for instance, hydrofracking, the controversial technique that natural gas companies have been using to extract the gas from shale, is not even legal, but already environmental groups are having to fight efforts from energy companies to buy up potentially gas-rich properties, Public News Service reports.
A poverty of political capital
The president’s new strategy on clean energy will surely succeed at turning current energy economy slowly towards a new path. In the absence of any overarching strategy to fix the country’s energy problems, it’s going to have to be good enough. But ultimately, this sort of tactic, born out of a poverty of political capital, cannot move fast enough to keep energy companies from scouring the earth for more profits doing what they’ve been doing.
That means that there will be more scenes like the one in Kern County, California, where companies are dredging up the last resources of oils from the tar sands. In Orion Magazine, Jeremy Miller writes:
The land also reveals the Frankensteinian scars and machinery necessary to keep up that level of production. Gas flares glow on hillsides. Nodding donkeys lever over thousands of wells, some of which are spaced fewer than a hundred feet apart. Between the wells and imposing cogeneration power plants—which supply energy and steam to the senescent fields—run wild tangles of pipe. These are the conduits of an elaborate industrial life-support system, breathing in steam and carrying away oil.
Will the president’s new strategy prevent the creation of more landscapes like this one? It seems overly optimistic to hope so.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger Flickr user davipt, Creative Commons... more
The Ontario Green Energy Act continues to bring heavy investments into the province, the latest of which is a $60 million deal between General Electric and B.C.-based renewable power firm, Plutonic Power.
GE Energy has been eager to dip their toes into Ontario’s escalating solar energy market and with the assistance of Plutonic, will purchase three solar farm projects in Southwestern Ontario owned by solar-panel maker First Solar.
With this move into Ontario, GE joins a growing list of energy titans like South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Germany’s Siemans AG, who have set up shop in the province as energy developers and manufacturers.
Continue reading here: http://www.enviralment.ca/2011/01/06/ge-moves-into-ontario-solar-market-with-new-60-million-venture/The Ontario Green Energy Act continues to bring heavy investments into the province,... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Congress comes back into session next week, but environmentalists and climate change activists have given up on the legislature. Instead, activists are planning to spur popular concern about these issues, until calls for change are so loud that Congress must listen.
Today, climate change reformer Bill McKibben will ask President Obama to reinstall a solar panel that first graced the White House roof during the Carter presidency. In the months to come, advocates hope to lead more radical direct actions that force more Americans to confront the issues at hand—and hopefully pressure change from the bottom up.
For the past two years, Congress has flirted with action on climate change, only to shy away time and time again. Environmental groups have spent record sums on courting lawmakers to no avail. McKibben and other environmental advocates are now convinced that they must bypass elected representatives and instead work to convince constituents that the country must do something to address global warming.
McKibben, the environmental author who now leads an international climate campaign called 350.0rg, along with Phil Radford and Becky Tarbotton, both heads of environmental groups, wrote to potential allies against the energy industry in Yes! Magazine.
“We’re not going to beat them by asking nicely,” the three wrote. “We’re going to have to build a movement, a movement much bigger than anything we’ve built before, a movement that can push back against the financial power of Big Oil and Big Coal. That movement is our only real hope, and we need your help to plot its future.”
These three leaders see a greater role for direct action in pushing America to scale down its energy use, move towards renewable energy, and abandon its dirty energy habits. As civil rights and suffrage advocates suggest, to move the populace, ”to effectively communicate both to the general public and to our leaders the urgency of the crisis,” climate activists must “put our bodies on the line.”
Those for who have suggestions on how to move forward can contact these leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org. They hope to draw on submitted ideas for actions in the spring.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds
Those less inclined to take to the streets still have options for supporting clean energy. The Nation’s Peter Rothberg suggests supporting the idea of Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVB), as conceived by the group Green America. This idea requires Congress to pass legislation, but “it seems like a no-brainer,” Rothberg writes.
“According to Green America, CEVBs would benefit the economy, the environment, and investors, by uniting individuals, communities, and companies to help finance the rapid deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency upgrades,” he says. Other benefits: it’s a safe and potentially flexible investment, and the bonds could help create 1.7 million jobs.
Easy to ignore climate change
At this point, the push for direct action almost seems like a more sensible investment of political energy, at least. Climate change has dropped in importance for most Americans, so it’s easy for Congress to ignore the problem. As Kevin Drum explains for Mother Jones, “The high-water mark for public opinion on climate change was in 2005 or so, and we’ve been losing ground ever since. Until we get it back, Congress is going to continue to do nothing.”
It appears that, without broad popular pressure for some sort of action, Congress feels comfortable leaving aside even policy proposals that the majority of Americans support. One of the sticking points of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) energy bill has been a renewable energy standard (RES), a requirement that the country will increase the percentage of its power generated from clean energy sources within a certain time frame.
The idea is popular, as David Roberts writes at Grist, citing a Pew/National Journal poll showing that 78 percent of all respondents and 70% of Republicans favored an RES.
“Not many policies get this kind of bipartisan support these days,” Roberts writes. “People are fond of saying energy should be a bipartisan issue and surely reasonable people can agree, etc. Well, here it is, happening.”
What’s more, an RES would go a long way towards spurring private sector investment in clean energy. Lew Hay, the CEO of NextEra, a major clean energy company, has said that an RES would spur his company to invest billions of additional dollars in wind and solar development.
East vs. Midwest
Passing an RES would also mean pushing the renewable energy industry to hash out a viable infrastructure for a clean energy future.
“As the nation looks to move to a renewable energy standard, a lot of that really comes down to how to meet the energy needs of the East coast,” Jamie Karnik, the communications manager at a wind advocacy group, told The Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia. “Certainly people who are building wind in the Midwest, have their eye on the eastern market.”
The problem is, Restuccia reports, that entrepreneurs on the East Coast want a chance to develop off-shore wind farms. Ultimately, the country will need new electric lines to transport energy created from clean sources, but right now, competition among clean energy manufacturers could delay the construction of those lines.
Maybe climate change activists can come up with some ideas to push the clean energy industry along faster, too.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger Congress comes back into session next... more