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Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
For anyone who has ventured into the Stargate News thread, I post periodic updates about what is going on there, and it occurs to me that I have almost as many sources about new developments in Green energy as I do about Stargate, and there's probably a lot more people here interested in Green energy developments than in Stargate anyway, so why not keep everyone up to date on the latest Green news?

So here's your first update:

Yesterday at a press conference for the Climate Savers Computing Initiative:

Intel Corporation and Google Inc. joined with Dell, EDS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, PG&E, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and more than 25 additional organizations today announced the Climate Savers Computing Initiative ( The goal of the new broad-based environmental effort is to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting aggressive new targets for energy-efficient computers and components, and promoting the adoption of energy-efficient computers and power management tools worldwide.

“Today, the average desktop PC wastes nearly half of its power, and the average server wastes one-third of its power,” said Urs Hölzle, senior vice president, Operations & Google Fellow. “The Climate Savers Computing Initiative is setting a new 90 percent efficiency target for power supplies, which if achieved, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year -- and save more than $5.5 billion in energy costs.

The goal of the Initiative is to both educate people about using the energy saving software already on their computers, and to make computers more efficient in general to save power, since so many people live and die by their computers these days, increasing efficiency could make a dent in the problem


PG&E, a California based energy provider, is causing a buzz talking about using old hybrid car batteries to supplement the energy grid. This has a lot of implications. Hybrid batteries are generally replaced in cars after they drop below a certain efficiency level, but that level is generally 80%, which means they are still very useful. PG&E wants to take all those batteries and put them in power plants and substations around renewable energy plants. The idea is centered around wind energy, because the power from wind plants is often wasted during the night.

Night time for wind power is peak time, wind is blowing the hardest and they produce the most power, but demand is at an off-peak time. So most of that energy is wasted, and not stored. Using thousands of these batteries, PG&E proposes to store all that energy and then release it during the day at high peak hours, therefore relieving the stress on the energy grid, as opposed to having coal fired plants and their brethren ramp up their CO2 producing efforts for a short while.

The benefits, other than capitalizing on wind energy and relieving the stress on the grid, inclue a new market for used hybrid batteries. Increasing their usefulness increases their value, and by way of that, is a boon to consumers. Knowing that batteries have a much longer usable life than we previously thought should lower the price of the car, knowing that the battery inside, when it needs to be replaced, will probably be sold and still be functional. The price would especially drop, because the battery is the most expensive part of the hybrid, more especially so in the case of a pure energy car like a Tesla. PG&E would get the used batteries at a discount, and their plants are already in place, so it's a modest investment for a big gain.

Of course, now we must wait for the automakers to really latch onto plug-in hybrids before this becomes a reality, but it's promising.

A new car in France, the diesel/electric powered Pugeot, is being touted as a 70mpg+ car, which beats even the outlandishly high fuel economy claims for the Toyota Prius.

Like most hybrids and plug in hybrids, the problem is the cost of the batteries, which the company is trying to work on currently. They hope to launch the car around 2010, when we're probably see a LOT of plug in hybrids released, possibly including a version of the Chevy Volt.

Stay tuned for more news in the coming days. Not every story will have a link to it, it depends on my source (which isn't always an online source, I read a lot of print media on the subject too).
Posted by ElJay (Member # 6358) on :
That PG&E news is way cooL!
Posted by Tarrsk (Member # 332) on :
Great idea for a thread! The PG&E news makes me even prouder to be a native Californian, even if I'm going to be stuck in Massachusetts for the foreseeable future. [Wink]
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
Hey, MA follows all the Cali standards! [Smile]

BTW, when do you get to town, Tarrsk?

Posted by Tarrsk (Member # 332) on :
Fair 'nuff. [Razz] I won't be moving to Boston until September- I'm spending the summer back in sunny, green California.
Posted by anti_maven (Member # 9789) on :
Excellent thread. Thanks Lyrhawn.

I am a continual dabbler in things Green, but so far my twiddlings haven't released Casa Maven from the claws of the electricity/gas company.

Our time will come...

Is anyone else here doing anything with domestic power generation?

I'll post some links when I get out of work.
Posted by skillery (Member # 6209) on :
Originally posted by Tarrsk:
...PG&E news makes me even prouder to be a native Californian...

Originally posted by Tarrsk:
...sunny, green California.

Not as green as you think. Sure, they haven't built any new coal-fired, oil-fired, or nuclear power plants in California in ages. The tree-huggers won't let them. So to avoid the rolling black-outs, they've tapped into power from coal-fired and oil-fired plants in other states. We get the smoke here; you get the power there. And our electric bills here have doubled. Now they want to put a remote-controlled box on my A/C to cycle it off during peak hours, so they can send the juice I save to CA.

If Paris Hilton is so hot, why don't you guys hook her up to a steam turbine and make your own darn electricity?
Posted by Tarrsk (Member # 332) on :
Wow, ouch. And touche.
Posted by skillery (Member # 6209) on :
I like the idea of storing energy as compressed air as we've seen in those "Air Hogs" pump-up toys.

And there's this air-powered car that they showed recently on the Discovery Channel.
Posted by The White Whale (Member # 6594) on :
This thread is already making me happy. Great idea Lyrhawn!

Of course, now we must wait for the automakers to really latch onto plug-in hybrids before this becomes a reality, but it's promising.
I'm not going to hold my breath for that. First, ever since 'Who Killed the Electric Car?' I've lost all faith in automakers. And second, I'm not sure if I like where the plug-in hybrid energy comes from any better than regular cars.

If Paris Hilton is so hot, why don't you guys hook her up to a steam turbine and make your own darn electricity?
Because the world would end. Anyone see the Invader Zim when Gir plugs himself into the power amplifier, and nearly ruins everything with the vast waves of stupid coming from his brain? Yeah, I think that would happen.

(Although I guess that it was those very same waves of stupidity actually saved the day in the end...but what's a silly cartoon know anyway? [Big Grin] )
Posted by sndrake (Member # 4941) on :
And there's this air-powered car that they showed recently on the Discovery Channel.

Someone should tell them, though, that if they want to attract Americans to the validity of their work, they might want to correct the spelling of "research" on the main page, which is currently spelled "reserch."

Not that I think it's a reflection on the product - it's a natural hazard when translating documents.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I read about the AirCar awhile back, there were a few articles about it, but it's still years away from even coming close to being a mass produced car. They still need to build test fleets, drive them, actually make sure they can mass produce them for a decent price, though I did hear they are now partnered with India's Tata Motors, which would probably help bring the price way down. Still, it's a tiny car, from the looks of things, and Americans by and large abhor tiny cars. I expect a big market, possibly, in Europe for it.

New Updates:

Poland Spring Water has announced that they will switch their tanker fleet to B5 Biodiesel, which will save 1.8 million pounds of carbon a year.

This is good news, but I should emphasize that bottled water, by and large, is incredibly wasteful and unnecessary. If you're on the go or in a restaurant and you want something handy, it makes sense, but tests have shown bottled water by and large is no cleaner than tap water, and in many cases is actually dirtier. It's a waste of time and money, and when you consider the waste that goes into producing those billions of bottles, the oil and carbon emissions, regardless of recycling efforts, the 1.8 million pounds is just a drop in the bucket. Save your money and skip the cases of water at Costco, if you really want to, grab a filter for your tap and fill your own bottles. Poland Springs should be commended for the effort though, they also have a 91% internal recycling rate.

It's looking pretty certain that automakers are going to have to swallow new, tougher CAFE standards when the next energy bill passes. The Big Three even said that they would accept it, but not to make it riduculously hard, as the struggling autogiants will already have to spend billions to research new cars.

The new standards could be anywhere from 30mpg to 45mph, fleetwide, anywhere from 2015 to 2025. CAFE, stands for Corporate Average Fleet Efficiency, which means if they have a sweet car that gets 50mpg, it cancels out the crappy car that only gets 20, so they balance out to 35.

There's a big debate right now on whether or not to combine all vehicle under ONE CAFE standard. Auto makers want two separate standards, one for SUVs and one for cars. They'll work this out over the next month, but an increase in standards, a fairly dramatic one, is almost a done deal. The Big Three's advocates in Washington have given up trying to kill the bill, now they are just trying to influence the bill to minimize the damage, but when Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens and Detroit's Congressman John Dingell are on board, you have to know something is going to happen. Those two are Big Oil and the Big Three's biggest allies.

Last week was the World Naked Bike Ride in Europe and parts of North America. The ride was for many reasons, and warning btw, that link contains little bits of nudity. The ride was to enhance awareness of the dangers that bikers face on the road, the fragility of the human body, the savings from emissions that riding bikes would garner, and the health impact of vehicle emissions.

Some bikers were arrested in Barcelona for indecent exposure, otherwise the ride was considered a success.

Ford has created a small 20 vehicle Ford Escape Hybrid E85 Flex Fuel vehicle. It is the first hybrid flex fuel vehicle, and though there are no plans at the moment to turn it into a production vehicle, this is a vital testing period that might lead to production someday. This vehicle has 25% less greenhouse gas emissions than the regular hybrid, but don't expect to see one on the streets any time soon, not until E85 becomes more prevelant anyway.

In related news, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition has announced that the US now has 1,000 E85 gas stations in the US, and 300 of those are in Minnesota, the Brazil of the USA. Minnesota, over the weekend, is offering a bunch of deals on E85, with gas as cheap as 85 cents a gallon as part of the promotion.

This week, Google was asked to reveal their carbon footprint, that is, to publicly disclose how much carbon they produce as waste. Google declined to answer directly, but instead gave a rather thorough explanation of the efforts they are making to be Greener (for example, they offer subsidies to employees who buy hybrids, and have the world's biggest corporate solar panel array at their headquarters). I take them at their word on why they don't want to reveal the actual numbers, but they might not have a choice in the future. As part of California's carbon cap system, companies based there might be forced to disclose their carbon footprint, which may be published in a huge list online. The US Congress might not be that far behind.

And finally, last night in Ann Arbor there was an Alternative Fuel Cars lecture. Five leaders of the industry got together at U of M to talk to and answer questions from 500 people. You can read the article in full here. But there's some concerning ideas. First off, none of the experts could really pinpoint why E85 is a good thing for consumers. They also showed concern for the price of oil. If oil were to suddenly drop to 10 dollars a barrel and the price of gas bottomed out, there would be zero economic incentive to producing all the green tech that is being developed for cars. It's ironic, but the insanely high gas prices are what is spurring all this investment, and for the sake of our future, it's probably best that they remain as high as they are.

That's all for today.
Posted by Mike (Member # 55) on :
Thanks for posting these. It's been interesting seeing greenness enter into the public consciousness over the last few years, though I'm sure part of that for me has been living in San Francisco.

Incidentally, I was accosted by a Greenpeace worker this afternoon. Seems like they're mostly on the right track, but I have problems supporting organizations like that. There's always some issue that I don't quite agree with them on.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Oh I wanted to add a little bit to what I was saying before.

They also showed concern for the price of oil. If oil were to suddenly drop to 10 dollars a barrel and the price of gas bottomed out, there would be zero economic incentive to producing all the green tech that is being developed for cars. It's ironic, but the insanely high gas prices are what is spurring all this investment, and for the sake of our future, it's probably best that they remain as high as they are.
This story goes a bit further. Ever since the price for a barrel of oil skyrocketed a few years ago from the mid teens in the late 90's to where it is now, OPEC is deadset on keeping the price of oil in the mid 60's, they think it is sustainable, and a fair price, so they will decrease production when necessary to keep the price high.

But, they also realize that if the price spikes too high, to the 80's or 90's, that that will only spur nations like the US to ween themselves off oil faster, thereby killing their longterm profits.

Though, that will be offset in the future by a massive boom in demand for oil from China and India (but then, on top of that, Russia pumping the stuff out as fast as humanly possible, with little concern for the market rate. They are the number two exporter of energy in the world, and that should give the Middle East pause).

Regardless, the high current price of oil is creating the current situation where renewables and the R&D to switch to cleaner cars seems more economically viable. It's estimated that the number of cars in the world will double, from 800 million to 1.6 billion in the next 20 years, and that's a lot of gas that will be needed, unless the third world buys into Green cars from the get go.

But you can't really blame OPEC for trying. The Middle East is drying up. Iran is in real trouble especially, they aren't reinvesting their oil profits in their infrastructure, and their wells are going inactive. They are producing thousands of barrels LESS per day than they are allowed to by OPEC, because their wells aren't being maintained and new ones aren't being built. In 20 years, they will be in big trouble, with low exports and not much cash on hand. They're a net importer of fuel because their refinery capacity is a joke. Saudi Arabia, you'd think would be fine with the population boom in the region, but their wells are like 70% water now, from when they pumped it into wells to increase the yields.

The Middle East, in 20 years, is going to be a hotbed of violence that no one much cares about anymore, and that's largely because of their current unsustainable practices.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for today, and there's some potentially great news, especially for the Ethanol haters out there (I'm one of them):

EnergyQuest is announcing plans to start producing butanol while producing hydrogen and electricity at the same time. This announced method uses waste from both feed stocks (like wood waste, trash, cow manure) and lignite coal (the latter being the most predominant one) and creates butanol using a gasification and catalytic conversion process that is claimed to minimse impact on the environment. Current butanol manufacturing procedures are based on fermentation and are more energy-intensive.

This new method, called PyStr (TM) produces butanol synthetically by gasifying any carbon sources to syngas (which in simpler terms is a mix of hydrogen + CO and CO2 gas). This gas is then introduced to a converter where the catalyst process yields liquid butanol.

Now, many of you may not have heard of butanol, and if you want the long version of what it is, what it does, and where it comes from, you can look here. I recommend it, it's a good read.

But here's the short version: Butanol causes less pollution, fewer emissions, can produce more energy per bushel of corn or sack of sugar beats (or whatever you are using), is not as hard on your engine, will mix better with gasoline, and will not corrode pipes like ethanol will. Also it eliminates the evaporation problem that ethanol has. Recent guesses on when butanol would be commercially viable were 2010, because of the required microbes ("Generation two" microbes that big producers thought would make it viable in the US) weren't available yet, but this new process might be a leap ahead.

The bottom line is: Butanol is better in every way than ethanol, yet America is fixed, for some reason, on pumping as much of the stuff into your gas tanks as possible. This only serves to reinforce when I've been saying for awhile: Ethanol is a short term measure, it is NOT a long term solution. Butanol may end up being a short term solution too, but it's a hell of a lot better. Write your congressman about this one. Find out why we aren't putting our tax dollars into something better than ethanol.

I was talking about the Alternative Fuels forum yesterday, and there's a great interview with David Cole, the Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research here. Seriously read this one, it's a very candid view from the point of view of the auto industry. They're worried about places like Saudi Arabia pulling the rug out from the price of oil and bottoming it out to $10 a barrel and totally killing the entire alternative fuels industry. He even suggested that government impose a permanent floor on a barrel of oil at something like $50, and if it falls below that, to tax it until it reaches $50. Read the whole thing though, I haven't finished it myself but I plan to when I get home from work later.

Giant utility American Electric Power said today it will buy 4.6 million carbon credits to capture methane produced by some 400,000 cows between 2010 and 2017. The Ohio-based utility - one of the U.S.'s largest producers of coal-fired electricity - did not disclose the price of the credits. Farmers in the 11 states where AEP operates will receive payments for participating in the program. AEP's (AEP) deal with the the Environmental Credit Corp. calls for the methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to be captured in covered lagoons and burned off. That still produces carbon dioxide, of course. But if AEP really wants to neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions - and tap some naturally clean power - it could emulate California utility PG&E (PCG) by supporting the conversion of methane into biogas to generate electricity on farms or at natural gas plants.

Posted by skillery (Member # 6209) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
where the catalyst process yields liquid butanol

What is the catalyst? Is it apatite, or do I need to buy more platinum stock?
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
It's been interesting seeing greenness enter into the public consciousness over the last few years, though I'm sure part of that for me has been living in San Francisco.

Yeah. Growing up in L.A., it was quite normal to have conversations about "going green", "green power", my sister who works at DWP had a "Green Power for a Green L.A." cap and t-shirt. Topics of conversation regularly included who was getting solar panels, the development of hybrid cars, and alternative energy sources' efficiency vs. traditional sources-- at school, at home, even the grocery store, everywhere, for the past, oh, 12 years or so. Then I started interacting with people from other communities; wow, many of them had never heard of this stuff or were talking about stuff that was old news. The funny thing was that for all the talk in L.A. , not a lot seemed to get done. People couldn't even follow the usage guidelines.

Just an observation I made, growing up.
Posted by Dragon (Member # 3670) on :
I don't really have anything to add (except a brief mention of an article, maybe in Time about gourmet bottled water - it might be silly but someone is trying hard to keep bottled water in business) but I just wanted to thank the people contributing to this thread. I always feel like I don't know enough about this stuff, so this is a great place to start (and stay on top of it) thanks to Lyr's updates.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I read the fancy water article, it was in Time.

Water like that is in rather small quantities anyway, I mean, you can only bottle and sell so much Tasmanian Rain (I'm not kidding), but I still don't like it. It's water for the wealthy anyway, so it's easy to rail against [Smile]

Incidentally, I found the plethora of different waters rather stunning. The guy in the article went to a place where the H20 Sommelier (basically) had 350 different kinds in his "water cellar." From Tazmanian Rain, to Hawaiian Volcanic water and more. And all of them cost $3+ a glass. And they vary in acidity, mineral content and bubblyness, and the variations apparently can totally change a dining experience. I guess the difference there is that it isn't bottled water, they could probably serve it in kegs, which wouldn't bother me as much, as I'm not arguing against wine or beer. But there you go, some people will pay for anything.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
So I just finished reading the full interview with David Cole, and it's really some interesting stuff. I figured a lot of you might not to read the main article, so I read it and pulled the highlights for you:

And finally, his closing thoughts:

But what happens now if the industry collectively has invested fifty billion dollars of technology that has now become too expensive, it's taken away what people wanted in their larger vehicles for larger families for their lifestyle and what happens then if Congress says "Oops we made a mistake." Now you have really put a lot of people out-of-business because you in a sense changed the game very quickly. And what is a concern with CAFE is that you can make any kind of regulation, one hundred miles per gallon. The fact is today a consumer.. actually the number that they're talking about is 35 miles per gallon in the next decade. You can buy a 35-mile per gallon car today. There's a lot of them on the market. The problem is that people don't want them. On a high a level it compromises their needs, their lifestyle and even at $3.00 a gallon they don't buy them. Well what happens if we implement so all vehicles, say all passenger cars have 35 miles per gallon in a few years and the fuel ends up being $1.50 a gallon, what are consumers going to say about that product. They're going you know be very upset about it. And the reality is a year from now we could be seeing fuel that is $1.50 a gallon or $4.00 a gallon or anywhere in between. That's probably a realistic range. And even this year, in six months I paid less than $2.00 a gallon for fuel less than six months ago.

So where is this gain and the problem with CAFE is is that it says industry you have to do this but there's no incentive for the market to follow what the industry has to do. If fuel prices are high there is an incentive. If fuel prices are low there's not and you've got a real problem in this disconnect between the market and what the manufacturer's can do. Product development times are in the area of two years versus five years, 10 or 15 years ago, the cost of developing a product or even more expensive the cost of developing a power train and you're into billions of dollars very very quickly and if you don't have some assurance that you can recover that from consumers that buy your products and you can sell them profitably you've got a problem in staying in business.

So CAFE in general, the way I look at CAFE and I listen to people talk about it, my general conclusion is the less people know about economics and technology the more optimistic about what what you can do. The more you understand economics and technology, the more reserved you are because you have to live with a set of restraints that are very real and that you understand. If you don't know anything about it it's no big deal. Like I don't know much about heart surgery and it's a piece of cake you know you just cut a guy open, you saw the breastbone and it's trivial because I don't know anything about it. If I knew something about it it would be very, very different altogether.

Posted by Dragon (Member # 3670) on :
Do you know anything about biolene? I was at a gas station today that had "drive clean with biolene" written on the pumps. When I googled it though, the results were in languages I didn't understand, or about mulch, which I didn't find enlightening.
Posted by The White Whale (Member # 6594) on :
Video (currently not working)


Another Link

First of all, the video link is from Discovery Channel, and it links me to something about alligators. Hopefully it will fix itself.

I just caught this on Discover Channel's 'Building the Future' program, and it looks pretty awesome to me.

The basic need is to turn salt water into drinkable water at a low cost. The current plants (this is coming from my memory of the show I just watched) heat the salt water to steam, which rises, leaves the salt and other minerals behind, and then condenses to clear, drinkable water. These plants burn through 300,000 gallons of gasoline to produce 1 million gallons of water.

This new plant needs no energy input, other than the energy it gets from solar and wind sources. It has a series of columns which are filled with cool ocean water. From the top of these, the water is sprayed onto a absorbent surface, like a sponge. Warm water from the oceans blows through the sponge surface, evaporating the water, leaving the salt and other minerals behind. This moist air then hits the columns of cold sea water, which causes the water to condense onto them. It then runs down the columns and is collected.

It also serves as a great backdrop to a large outdoor theater. (I think verbatim from Discovery Channel).

I am surprised I can't find more online about this. It seems like a really good idea for me, I just wonder what the construction / maintenance cost would be. Seeing this type of project gets me exited and gives me hope that all of the huge technical and architectural advances humans have made can actually be used for something besides looking neat.
Posted by Dragon (Member # 3670) on :
More odd sightings at my local gas stations: A sign listing the alcohol content of ethanol. Why should I care about that?
Posted by The White Whale (Member # 6594) on :
Pure ethanol can be consumed as alcohol. I think in Brazil they make sure there is some gasoline in their ethanol so that the people don't drink it all up.

Maybe you shouldn't care about that, but some of us do, and it's nice to be informed.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Originally posted by Dragon:
More odd sightings at my local gas stations: A sign listing the alcohol content of ethanol. Why should I care about that?

Do you live in a dry county?
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
Originally posted by The White Whale:
Pure ethanol can be consumed as alcohol. I think in Brazil they make sure there is some gasoline in their ethanol so that the people don't drink it all up.

Actually, "pure" (100%) alcohol is almost certain to have contaminants that are toxic. Benzene! Yummy!

However, ethanol sold as fuel can be in various mixtures and concentrations. So of course they have to list percent alcohol.
Posted by Mike (Member # 55) on :
My fuel of choice is only 11.3% alcohol by volume.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Here's the update for the last couple days, there's quite a bit, so this will be the cliffs notes version. If there's something you want more info on, let me know:

Bank of America has fully financed the Redwood Forest Foundation, which will purchase 50K acres of redwood forests in Southern California from a logging company. Logging will still take place there, but at a much reduced rate, and the forest's ecology will be stablized and brought back to a healthy status before any more logging takes place. The RFF will sell off part of the forest to help pay down the debt it owes to the BOA, but just a small piece, the grand majority of the forest will be kept intact for ever and ever.

After reading reports that Google was asked about it's carbon footprint, Sun Microsystems started calculating their global footprint. Thus far they have only gotten to their national print, here is a chart of Sun's US footprint. They're still working on the world total, but the total of those eight facilities is roughly half their total.

Honda has started making solar panels modeled for home and small business use. Honda Soltec has already begun operations.

The US Census issued a report about our real American commuting behavior in recent times. Gasoline prices may be high and concern about global warming may be growing, but on the whole, "Green Thinking" is just that, thinking. Eighty-eight percent of people who go to work still drive to work. That includes carpoolers. Of that 88 percent, 77 percent go by themselves. And many are probably going by SUV because they bought them back in the days before 9/11/01 or soon after.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the head of the Committee on on Oversight and Government Reform, is curious about a call made by Heideh Shahmoradi, an aide at the Transportation Department, to a member of Congress. Since Shahmoradi left a voicemail instead of speaking directly to that Congressman, Waxman was able to get the transcript of the call, and he says it seems like this DOT aide was lobbying against California's tougher carbon emission standards by saying it would hurt (the exact phrase is "greatly impact") the car factories in the member's district. There's more, including the letter Waxman send to the DOT Secretary, over at TalkingPointsMemo, which is always good for this sort of reporting.
Avis Budget Group has announced that they will start offering Toyota Priuses for rent through their outlets in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR and throughout California. The rental company is adding 1,000 of the hybrids to their fleet and joins Enterprise Rent-A-Car which already offers more than 3,000 hybrids. Avis will be charging $69.95 or more a day for the Priuses depending on where and when customers rent them.

DETROIT – General Motors Corp. is moving more than 500 fuel cell experts from advanced development laboratories to core engineering functions to prepare this technology for future production.

More than 400 fuel cell engineers will report to GM's Powertrain Group to begin production engineering of fuel cell systems. Another 100 will transfer to GM's Global Product Development organization to start integrating fuel cells into future company vehicles. Finally, more than 150 fuel cell scientists and program support will remain as part of GM's Research and Development center to continue advanced research in hydrogen storage, fuel cells and program commercialization.

The transition is aimed at expediting the company's efforts to produce vehicles that displace petroleum through energy diversity.

"Eight years ago we said that hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology could make a major contribution to solving the energy and environmental challenges facing the automobile industry," said Larry Burns, GM Vice President, Research and Development. "Today's announcement signals another important milestone as we move fuel cell vehicles closer to future production."

GM shared details about its fifth-generation fuel cell system technology when it unveiled the fuel cell-powered E-Flex version of the Chevrolet Volt at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. This latest system is half the size of its predecessor, yet provides the same power and performance.


Pictures of a French Pigueot concept hybrid convertable. The whole point being, hybrids can be sexy, fun cars too, they don't all have to look like the moderately unstylish Prius, they can look like this, or the more sporty Volt or Tesla.

For the moment, you can watch "Who Killed the Electric Car?" via Google video,

here. Don't know how long it will be up.

Biofuels Corporation, a British biofuel producer has collapsed. They took a 100 million pound loss due to a massive spike in the vegetable oil they use. Food demands in China, and a well subsidied US ethanol industry might just drive the entire European biofuel out of business.

For some time now the third generation Toyota Prius was expected to debut in the fall of 2008 carrying a lithium ion battery pack and and very possibly plug-in capability. In the past week it has been reported that neither the lithium energy storage or the plug-in capability would be there and now it looks the timeline has slipped as well.

Of course, since Toyota never officially announced a launch date they are refusing to call the slip to a spring 2009 debut a program slip or even acknowledge the new or old date. By the time the new Prius hits the market there will be several new competitors available including the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan hybrids and the plug-in version of the two-mode Saturn Vue is due that same year.

It looks like Toyota's decision to stick with their local supplier might have come back to haunt them. Panasonic currently supplies the NiMH hydride batteries that Toyota uses and they have been focusing on LiNiCoAlO2 cathodes which are considered to be the least thermally stable of the currently available lithium chemistries. Other companies like A123 use materials such as doped iron phosphate and other materials that have better thermal stability. At this stage of the program Toyota might actually better off going to a new source for lithium batteries rather than reverting to NiMH.

Large photogallery of third generation Prius, Hybrid-X car. Shiny.

Three Senators have introduced the FREEDOM Act in Congress, which as you might have noticed is an acronym, for "Fuel Reduction using Electrons to End Dependence On the Mideast." It has three parts, one is a big tax credit for PEDVs, Plug in Electric Drive Vehicles, until 250,000 cars are sold, so get in early for the credit. It also includes tax incentives for the U.S. production of PEDVs and PEDV dedicated parts; incentives for electric utilities to provide rebates to customers who purchase PEDVs; and give utilities producing the greenest energy the largest incentives.

GM has announced they've created a new diesel engine for their trucks and SUVs, that will have better performance then previous engines, will saving 25% on fuel efficiency, and a 13% reduction in CO2 emissions. It will be put into production soon, at their Tonawanda plant.

That's the report for the 15th, I'll do a separate post about the 16th.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Here's the report for Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th, sorry I've already fallen behind, but it's a lot of daily information to wade through:

The world's first commercial tidal power station will be installed north of Ireland. The single station will be enough to power a 1,000 homes, and they hope to increase the size beyond this prototype to a 10MW unit, above the current 1.5MW unit. They envision a tidal farm with a 500MW capacity by 2015. The blades move slowly, 10 times slower than ship blades, and are placed in high flowing areas, so they believe damage to marine life will be very, very small.

Nissan and NEC created a join-venture not long ago to produce lithium ion batteries specifically designed for use in hybrid and electric cars.

They have just announced that they're supplying those batteries to Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) and Renault in order to make these batteries competitive for mass production. Renault is Nissan's parent company and Fuji is linked itself to Toyota. Would this mean we will get hybrids from Renault, Nissan and Subaru? Surely yes. The press release also mentions that they are speaking with Ford about a possible deal as well.

There are high hopes on the use of lithium batteries for cars instead of current lead-acid or nickel hydride. Lighter, with higher autonomy and no memory-effect, they are currently powering laptops, cell phones, PDAs and were the choice for the Tesla Roadster.

Other important industrial groups and partnerships are spending a lot of money in lithium batteries, such as Toyota/Matsushita or Mitsubishi/GS Yuasa.


Sustainable Development is a website that has just opened its doors. They are there to educate people and businesses in ways to cut costs through green energy, and to be more efficient. Check it out at your own leisure.

A couple of years ago, they (Batscap) introduced at the Geneva Auto Show a benchmark for their energy storage technologies. It was the prototype of a city car, 3.05 meters long (the size of a classic Mini), called the BlueCar.

The announced specifications are quite good. Thanks to the batteries weighing 5 times less than lead-acid ones, the car is surprisingly light (700kg, about 1550 pounds). This helps in making the car able to have a range of more than 200 km (120 miles). The battery technology allows the car to be fully recharged in 6 hours, although with a few minutes there's enough to get over a bad situation. The car is good for 125 km/h of maximum speed (80 miles), just around the European speed limits thanks to the 50 kW motor (equivalent to 65 HP). It seats 3 at the front, optionally an additional pair at the back, although the default combination is keeping the back for storage (up to 800 dm3).

The design was made by a subsidiary of Pininfarina, who also built the car. The company originally announced that they wouldn't make the car but sell it to a carmaker. Later, they announced that their technology has been sold to Valeo and PSA (Citroën-Peugeot).


In an energy policy debate on Capitol Hill this week Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) wanted to introduce an amendment that would require 15 percent of electricity generated in the US to come from renewable sources by 2020. This was contested by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) who offered an alternative amendment that includes coal and nuclear as clean energy
Somehow I don't see that going anywhere. Interesting both the senators are from New Mexico. This might touch off a much bigger debate on whether coal really can be made clean or not.

AWS Ocean Energy plans to install 5 test buoys off the coast of Scotland soon. A different kind of wave energy than the fanblade turbines, these are buoys that bob up and down, capturing the movement of the waves. Eventually the company hopes to install them over Britain's waters. They could be installed wherever wave motions are heavy, such as the US Pacific coast, European Atlantic coast and others.

This is one of the three or four different kinds of wave or tidal energy that I've seen suggested. There's another type of buoy being tested off the coast of Seattle that sits on the surface (the one from AWS is planted underwater to the seabed) and bobs along in the water.

The other kind captures wave power, by laying out in long rows like crops, in the water, bobbing up and down and capturing the water. These are being tested off the coast of England as well.

The fourth kind, that I haven't heard about in awhile, sits off the coast of Scotland, and works when waves crash into it (it's a fixed installation), which turns turbines.

I have the best hope for the buoys.

The California Air Resources Board has mandated that all refineries in California must blend their gas with 10% minimum of ethanol. This is a boon to ethanol producers, and coincides with the new fuel standards set by the Governator which take effect in 2009.

This one is some pretty exciting news:

The HAWK 10, invented by the Global Resource Corporation and recently put to use by Gershow Recycling, is 100% emission- and pollutant-free and can reduce landfill waste by close to 65%. In addition, it recycles excess metal that businesses can then reuse and uses a system of high microwave frequencies to convert "autofluff" (i.e. textiles, foams, plastics, etc) into oil and gas.

While most companies tend to dispose of the residue (dubbed automobile shredder residue, or ASR) produced from the recovered steel by dumping it into a landfill, polluting the surroundings and wasting valuable components in the process, the HAWK 10 gasifies the different materials and turns them into 80% light combustible gases and 20% oil. The machine fuels its next round by cycling the gas through a closed-loop system to use it, thus avoiding the production of emissions.

"Imagine running a major industrial process like recycling with negligible fuel costs and zero emissions. It seems like the stuff of science fiction, but it's real, it's proven, and it's available right now to companies like Gershow who grasp the importance of fighting global warming," said Kevin Gershowitz, Executive Vice President of Gershow Recycling

Company officials expect the machine will pay for itself within a year of being put to use by taking advantage of renewable energy tax credits.

Pretty cool stuff there. Reducing landfill waste should be high on our minds, and more efficient use of our waste materials is some great news! I'll try to update tomorrow.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Ethanol is a polar molecule with a high affinity for the polar "universal solvent" water. It can't be distilled to a higher purity than ~96%alcohol&~4%water, except by distillation with benzene. Benzine is known to be extremely hazardous to health; to long-term health even in trace quantities such as through groundwater contamination.

"Biolene" is some advertising jerks way of making the customer feel good for paying extra to buy gasahol. It just means that they dumped a small amount of ethanol into the gasoline, lowering the fuel value (lowering miles per gallon that you can expect, and lowering horsepower), increasing the price per gallon, and increasing both water and air pollution.

You should care about ethanol percentage because federal ethanol mandates are being used as an excuse by major oil corporations to keep gasoline supplies tight and prices high through failure to build new refineries. That ethanol mandate also drives up your grocery bill. AND you get to pay extra portion of your income tax to subsidize the oil companies buying that ethanol, plus extra tax at the fuel pump because the price per gallon is higher.

David Cole's answers contain more lies than sentences.
But then, that's why he's being paid the big bucks to head the "Center for Automotive Research".

[ June 18, 2007, 04:29 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Mike (Member # 55) on :
That Peugeot hybrid is tres sexy. Where can I get one?
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
Actually, there are other compounds that break the alcohol-water azeotrope. Benzene is just the simplest to use for most purposes. And all the others are toxins as well. Cyclohexane, for example. Or calcium oxide (which becomes calcium hydroxide, a fairly nasty base).

While other methods have been explored, there really is very little reason to push for 100% alcohol that is drinkable. You can get plenty drunk on 190 proof. [Razz] And since most alcohol at that concentration is for industrial use, it is better that it not be drinkable -- keeps the ATF from taxing it.

And keeps the grad students from drinking it. [Wink]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Originally posted by aspectre:
David Cole's answers contain more lies than sentences.
But then, that's why he's being paid the big bucks to head the "Center for Automotive Research".

Elaborate please?
Posted by anti_maven (Member # 9789) on :
Hi Lyrhawn - could you post your sources for the Gershow Recycling/Hawk 10 piece.

I've been trying to fing out some more information and have got nowhere - the Global Resource Corporation is pretty broken...

Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
"The greatest concern to Cole, and the rest of the industry, is the price of oil bottoming out to 10-15 dollars a barrel."

I'm not sure I understand this. If the mideast is going to see their oil fields collapsing in 20 years, wouldn't lowering the price make them run out sooner? I would think that the cheaper gas gets, the more desperately we need the alternative fuels.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Lowering the price won't make them run out sooner, besides, it'd be a temporary venture. The only reason to bottom out the price like that would be to make auto efficiency a moot point, kill all those alternative fuels and kill the auto industry's R&D money spent on hybrids and electric cars. It's the high price of oil that is spurring this research and development drive, and killing the price of oil kills the incentive and profitability for those alternative developments.

If they don't take action now, electric cars, dozens of hybrid models, and billions of gallons of alternative fuels will be available in the next FIVE years. They'll probably still be able to sell to China and India, but Russia is pumping oil by the thousands of barrels to those two countries. They want to make sure they get the most bang for their buck before the wells run dry, and killing the industry that's threatening you is a good way to do it.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
anti-maven, look at Tree Hugger.

I checked the front page and the article wasn't there anymore, but check the site over, you might be able to find it in the archives.


Check here at Tree Hugger and here at Greenbiz.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for Monday the 18th, these are becoming longer and longer as I find more and more sources, so chances are I might start picking and choosing the meatier stuff and leaving others out:

Prius not aging well, from Consumer

The Toyota Prius is proving to be a good, solid car but as the hybrid approaches 100,000 miles a number of odd problems are popping up that ought to be cause for concern among consumers shopping for a secondhand hybrid.

The Japanese automaker began selling gas-and-electric cars ten years ago and is now the acknowledged hybrid leader in the automotive industry.

But a growing number of ConsumerAffairs.Com readers are reporting that the Prius hybrid technology is not aging well. With some Prius models in the U.S. on the road now for eight years and approaching 100,000 miles, owners are beginning to encounter problems that are unique to the hybrids.

One reader reported to us that in her 2004 Prius the hybrid display began to malfunction and “did not work with the result of being unable to get gas into car."

A California reader told us that the monitor is also failing in his Prius and said that Toyota is unwilling to provide any assistance because the monitor is no longer covered by the Toyota warranty.

“There is a technical service bulletin out on it from Toyota which tells the dealer how to repair the problem but only if the car is under factory warranty,” he said. “My car has 49,000 miles on it and is out of warranty.”

A Texas Prius owner with 91,000 miles on his hybrid said that "the dashboard lit up with multiple warning lights. The dealer picked it up and said that the transmission went out and it would cost $6,000 to fix and the Prius was out of warranty.”

Toyota allowed no coverage, not even partial help even though the transmission was part of the Hybrid Power train covered for 5 years and 100,000 miles.

A southern California Prius owner told us that his car has died on the freeway four times. The second time the dealer had the car for 53 days waiting for parts.

The growing number of complaints and problems owners of aging Prius hybrids are encountering suggest that a wary consumer ought to look long and hard before becoming the second owner of one of these hybrids.

Toyota warrants the hybrid drive system for 100,000 miles, but as Danny in San Antonio discovered, there can be some uncertainty as to which of the Prius components are considered part of the hybrid drive and which are not.

And it was nice to see my Ford Focus was just above the Prius on that list. Coincidentally, one of the most oft heard complaints about the Focus, that the washer fluid pump dies, has happened to me. I've yet to get it fixed, as I just don't have the money, and won't until the fall, but I guess that's what you get for an economy car.

Shell has cancelled one of three requests to Congress for permission to extract oil from shale in Colorado. Like Alberta's tar sands, there is a huge amount of oil in America's west, but it's trapped in shale. Getting oil from shale is like getting blood from a stone. They have to heat the shale to melt the oil out of it, but they also have to freeze the groundwater beneath it to prevent contamination. It's messy, it's dangerous, it's rife with risk for an ecological disaster, and if it was done, the barrels of oil produced would be more than $100 a barrel.

In other words, it's not yet worth it, not until a major breakthrough makes it viable. The money would be better spent on alt fuels.

Greenvolts today announced a deal with Pacific northwest utility giant Avista. Greenvolts will make a testbet solar power plant for them using a unique method of generation. Using mirrors they licensed from Lawrence Livermore, and the world's most highly efficient photovoltaic cells, made by Boeing's Spectrolab. The mirrors focus the sun on the super efficient cell. The company's founder believes they can produce 20MW models soon.

Senate Democrats are going to attempt to remove the tax breaks, numbering at least $14 billion given to oil companies, and to give them to Green energy and alternative fuels. They also want to force oil companies to finally start paying royalties to the federal government for oil they drill for on US territory, that could amount to $10 billion over five years. Good luck Democrats.

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2007 -- Through a new agreement with the National Association of Manufacturers, the Department of Energy will help speed the adoption of energy management programs, clean and efficient technologies and energy-intensity reduction programs.

The partnership is a step to help advance President Bush's Twenty in Ten Initiative, which promotes greater energy security through increased efficiency and diversification of clean energy sources.

"Increasing energy efficiency is not only good practice, but it can also be good business," Energy Secretary Samuel M. Bodman said. "Today's agreement between DOE and NAM represents a significant commitment between government and the private sector to help curb our nation's energy use and enhance energy security while also reducing emissions."
The DOE estimates that if the U.S. industrial sector were to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent in ten years, the U.S. could save 8.4 quadrillions of energy, an amount equal to heating every U.S. household for one year. As part of DOE's "Save Energy Now" campaign, energy experts using DOE software identified nearly $500 million in potential energy saving at 200 of the most energy-intensive manufacturing plants in the U.S. in 2006.


A new report from the Energy Savings Trust finds that, despite many companies' beliefs, incorporating Green Fleet Management practices will save U.K. businesses 2.6 billion pounds per year at no additional cost.

The Energy Saving Trust's "Behind the Wheel" report, launched today, examines business leaders' attitudes to their company car fleets and their impact on the environment. The report reveals a worrying lack of interest from many companies over their vehicles' impact on the environment and their bottom line. Company car fleets are frequently the second largest overhead a company incurs.

As well as making proven financial sense, running a green fleet can also impact greatly on an organization's carbon footprint and contribute towards greater awareness amongst staff and customers of a company's commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.
Only half of U.K. businesses believe that running a greener fleet will save them money
Only a quarter of companies offer incentives to employees to choose a lower CO2 car. Meaning that the majority of U.K. businesses promote the choice of cars with higher running costs that also increase the companies' carbon footprint.

A fifth of companies (21 percent) still insist that eligible employees drive a car commensurate with their grade, meaning the higher the earner, the higher the CO2 emissions -- despite the range of low CO2 executive cars now available.

Just eleven per cent of U.K. companies that offer company cars have reviewed their fleets' carbon footprint.Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said of the report, "When it comes to company car fleets, the business case is the environmental case. Yet we frequently find that fleets are not being discussed at the right level in companies. Very few organizations discuss their company car fleet as a boardroom agenda item."

Sellwood added that the companies who have shown leadership at a high level are the ones who are implementing green fleet policies with tremendous success in terms of carbon and monetary savings. As with any serious operational restructure, buy-in at the top is essential. He added that in 2006, the Energy Trust helped more than 120 companies run a greener fleet through their "Green Fleet Review" service, which helps organizations improve the environmental performance of company fleets.
More News...

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for June 19th:

Congressmen John Dingell (D-MI) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) said that they will not be pursuing the energy legislation that they have proposed for at least the next two weeks. The Dingell-Boucher bill had fuel economy standards that were not as stringent as those proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and had incentives for coal to liquid projects and low carbon fuel standards.

The bill would have also banned states, including California, from regulating greenhouse gases independently of the federal government. Dingell and Boucher will propose alternate legislation that drops the state regulation ban and the coal to liquid while adding incentives for batteries, plug-in hybrids, grid upgrades and renewable fuels.

Dingell had a write up recently in TIME magazine lauding him for standing up to the people (The Big 3) who have traditionally been his staunchest allies. He's proposing strigent CAFE standards and other things that will hurt automakers, and he's their rep in Congress, literally, as he's from southeast Michigan. I like that the reason he is dropping his proposal isn't because he's abandoning his position, but because he wants to remove the restrictions on California, which are patently unfair, and probably unconstitutional, as the Congress doesn't have the power to do that (I don't think anyway).

Google's philanthropic arm,, is using a piece of their $1 billion seed money to fund efforts to bring more awareness and viability to Plug In Hybrids. They are installing solar panels on their home HQ for people who already bring plug ins to work so they can recharge while they work. The link above details where they are spending a lot of their money, it basically works a bit like the Auto X Prize that's going on. Anyone with a good idea on how to make the technology and infrastructure work better will get a piece of the pie, whatever it takes to make things better. Google has gotten a lot of good press lately with their Green efforts. PG&E, no stranger to Green press lately, was on hand to tout some of their new smart grid technology.

Google has a very small number of plug in Priuses that are shared among Google employees. It's a shared fleet of cars. They are all powered at work at the world's largest business rooftop solar array, a 1.3MW power generating assembly. All in all, pretty impressive.

Google has also announced their intention to go totally carbon neutral by the end of 2008. Like their headquarters, other offices will either build on site renewable power generators, or they will purchase carbon offsets. This is an entirely voluntary move by Google, but using their own green energy and other efficiency tools to reduce consumption will have long lasting monetary gains as well. The operating costs for their facilities will drop like Mike Gravel throwing a rock into a pond.

As far as the smart grid technology goes, PG&E is fiddling around with modifying plug ins so that they can not only receive power from the grid, but can also give energy back to the grid. It's an interesting idea, but I don't really know it'll work out in the end. The idea, is that companies spend billions of dollars to keep their power plants basically idling by, waiting for peak hours that will demand huge amounts of energy, which amounts to a lot of waste. Drawing power, however, from millions of hybrids that are plugged into the system during peak hours, perhaps while they are at work and those cars are charging under solar carports, it could eliminate thousands of wasteful, polluting substations that exist to feed that need.

Though if the cars give back ALL their energy to the grid, that eliminates the benefits of having a plug in car, as they would just run on gas. But I think the idea in general is tied into solar carports, and other means of powering cars. They could be used for other needs, like say an electical distruption to your house could be softened by drawing power temporarily from your car. LION batteries can be depleted and charged at any time without losing charge capacity, which is one of their major advantages for plug ins. We'll see where it goes, I think a lot of it depends on infrastructure changes, but it's the kind of innovative thinking I like to see at least explored.

Chrysler is teaming up with a German manufacturer, and will be building a big plant in Tipton County Indiana to build a new kind of double clutch transmission, 700,000 annually. Chrysler has announced three other big changes in engine production in recent months, all aimed at improving fuel economy and reducing pollution while increasing performance. It's announcements like this that help stem the tide of naysayers about American manufacturing and innovation. Engineering in the US is alive and well, and they're going Green.

The General Motors assembly plant in Ellesmere Port in England has been on a major energy efficiency kick for the last four years. The plant that assembles Astras has cut the amount of energy they use to build cars by fifty percent.

Even with the increase in production capacity in that time, the total energy use at the plant is down thirty percent in during that time. The plant has been recognized by the Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme which is part of the Carbon Trust.


E3 Biofuels will open its closed-loop ethanol plant at the end of this month in Nebraska. Closed-loop, in this instance, means that the company is technically able to make ethanol without using any fossil fuels. The idea is that by placing a large cattle feedlot next to an ethanol plant (with an anaerobic digester in between), you can use the cow manure to make biogas and burn the biogas to power the ethanol-making machines. The leftover wet grain from the ethanol plant is then fed to the cows. And so on.

Of course, there are still lots of ways for fossil fuels to enter into this process (the trucks that deliver the ethanol feedstock are the most obvious culprits), but this is a system that does do well in thinking about how to turn waste materials to useful ones. E3 BioFuels admits the process "uses virtually no fossil fuel."


Walmart has announced an effort to save energy during peak hours by reducing their lighting in Canadian stores by 30% during the summer. It will save them a million dollars in energy costs, as well as removing 4,500 tons of carbon emissions that it would have produced otherwise. They are pursuing other ways to do more, such as new designs for stores and new packaging methods and materials.

This doesn't necessarily have to do with energy costs per se, but it does have to do with the environment and wastefulness:

It's no secret that ink printer manufacturers try and make most of their money off the consumables associated with printing. Unlike laser printers, they essentially give away the printer, but then charge a lot of money for the the inkjet cartridges and, to a lesser extent, the paper. Fine, but apparently there is a bit more to the story, as a new study found that more than half of the ink from inkjet cartridges is wasted when users toss them in the garbage. This is because most users huck them when their printers tells them they're out of ink. Turns out the infernal gadget is lying - they may still be over half full!

The findings come from a study, conducted by TÜV Rheinland and commissioned by Epson, that studied the efficiency of both single and multi-ink cartridges from various vendors. Surprise, surprise - Epson's own R360 posted the best numbers, with only 9 percent of the ink wasted. Kodak's, with its EasyShare 5300 came in as the straggler, wasting over 64 percent of its ink in tests. According to the study, some printers have hundreds of pages worth of ink left when they beep that they are 'dry'. And there's another wrinkle as well.

Readers that have followed the printing world for a while know that some printers use multi-ink cartridges (3 to 5 colors all in the same cartridge) and some use separate cartridges (one cartridge, one color.) Obviously, the multi-ink cartridge fare worse in these types of tests because they can be 'emptied' as soon as a single color runs low (like when printing out a Powerpoint presentation.) This unravels the story a little bit more, as Epson (who backed the study) uses primarily single-ink cartridges in their printers; this is almost guaranteed to be more efficient because there's only one color per cartridge, and thus only one cartridge to replace when that color runs out. These still waste ink - up to 20 percent - but generally were better than the multi-ink cartridge models.

The final wrinkle is that the study also did not calculate the total cost per page, which arguably is more important than efficiency. Epson refused to comment on this which suggests, well, you know. Lots of solutions to the problem; First, don't listen to your printer and use your cartridges until they run dry. Second, try an online service like Photobox, or use a continuous flow system. And third, if you are buying a printer, check out cost per page as well


Like the last article, this is branching out a bit from green energy, but I'm finding new sources that have a bit more variety to them, so you get more variety as well.

It was late last year when we brought bark cloth to your attention. Now the stuff has gone an won yet another award. Yep, one those ISPO sports awards we noted last week for the Waldmeister laminated timber bicycle. The fleece garments look like highly texturised versions of the same thing that is normally made from petroleum. But the bark in the cosy garments by Losgeloest of Frieburg, Germany, comes from forests in the Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. How a tree renders up a textile is not dissimilar to how cork is repeatedly harvested from the same tree. In this case it’s the wild Mutuba fig (Ficus natalensis). Once the bark layer is removed in a centuries old process, the 50 to 150 year old trees are protected from drying out by being wrapped in banana leaves, so that within a couple of years new bark is growing. Meanwhile the stripped bark is pounded with wooden pestles of varying coarseness until the desired thickness is obtained. “This labour-intensive process produces an ever-larger, softer, thinner and darker cloth.” Apparently the yearly yield from these trees is about 20,000 square metres (~24,000 square yards.)

In a bit of health news, the entire United Kingdom is going cigarette smoke free on July 1st. Smoking will be illegal pretty much everywhere but your house. Ireland did the same thing in 2004, and instead of seeing a decline in bar sales, they actually saw an increase. Many credit that to non-smokers coming out of the woodworks. It's also credited for 34,000 people stopping smoking that year. England expects as many as 600,000 people could stop smoking as a result.

Here is a photogallery of different "Green Roofs" from around the world. Green roofs are not only aesthetically beautiful, they also serve a number of functions, from reducing home heating costs, to water conservation, to simple food production, they save the environment and save money while being beautiful.

Could the polymers of the future be plant based, and not petroleum based?

I suppose this is my best article of the day, and I demand that if you skipped over this entire article, you at least read this. The gist is that long ago, there was a fight over whether or not plastic would be made from plants or oil, and oil won because it was more abundant, and plants had shortcomings. Well 80 years later or so, oil isn't abundant, and plants have more than surpassed their shortcomings. Read the article, and find out how one of our little fears, that even reducing fuel consumption in cars might not stem the need for oil, might be baseless in the end.

Okay, since this is already a superlong post, you get the last few tidbits in read at your own leisure format:

Arid US of the future might have to choose between Energy Production and Drinking Water

Turning old food into energy - How to turn yard clippings and wasted food into useful energy

Big in Europe but not in the US, exterior blinds for buildings could greatly reduce the cost of heating
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for June 20th:

The Science Channel is looking for Green inventors. They're forming a new show that will showcase average joe inventors who have an invention that will reduce our energy usage or some other Green advantage. No more details on the show yet, they are still looking for the invetors.

The new energy bill before the senate is stalled as special interests and Senators all squabble over the final pieces of the bill. Michigan's senators are pissed about CAFE standards being so high, senators in coal heavy states are pissed because clean coal wasn't included as a good new green power, and neither was nuclear.

This will stall for awhile, as pissy senators yell back and forth, and Republicans threaten a fillibuster over the issue.

Delta Biofuels, a biofuel plant that stands in the midst of areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina will raise production of biofuel at their plant from 18 million gallons a year to 80-100 million gallons by switching from a batch to continuous flow method. Pretty amazing upgrade.

The Association of British Drivers has compared government education about climate change as such:

The 'Carbon Control' project, organised by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) ... presents as received wisdom the one sided message that climate change is totally man-made. Then, it relentlessly imparts the notion that lifestyle changes are essential to prevent catastrophic climate change. It does this in the hope that children will harangue their parents to reduce their 'carbon footprint' by using their cars less, and other ideologically motivated lifestyle changes.

An RSA press release issued on the 14th June 2007 described children as "influencers on their parents' decisions". This has worrying echoes of the way children were used to exert control over their parents in 1930's Germany.

Apparently, to them, Al Gore is Hitler. Personally I think they'd get a lot further using much less aggressive language. But hey, there's always haters out there.

The province of Ontario has set up a $311 million fund to develop cleaner cars. They are hoping that the Canadian government will match the funds, but with 39% of Canada's population, Ontario feels it is their duty to take the lead on reducing their carbon footprint.

San Francisco is teaming up with PG&E to check out the feasibility of putting tidal power stations in San Francisco Bay. A report from the Electric Power Research Institute said in 2006 that SFB could be the biggest producer of tidal power in the world, and has the greatest potential. PG&E is even chipping in a million and a half dollars to help with the study. SFB has some of the strongest currents in the world, which is part of what made Alcatraz so hard to escape from.

In related news, PG&E also hopes that people will start using more efficient, less energy gobbling computers, and they are releasing a lot of press about the new advanced energy grid that I talked about yesterday.

In more evidence of Wall Street's bright outlook on Green energy, Morgan Stanely will finance and own solar panels arrays at seven Wal-Marts in California. Wal-Mart benefits by getting cheap energy from MS, and also they get the green energy credits from California's carbon cap trading program, which they may sell and keep the money from. Partnerships such as these are springing up all over the country as investors rush to make as much money as they can out of the opportunities that are arising in the Green energy sector. Anyone who said Green would be too expensive didn't know what they were talking about.

Here's your exciting news for the day, a new study from the Brattle Group believes that simple advanced monitoring of energy use could result in a 5% reduction of all US energy use in five years.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 20, 2007 -- A new study by the Brattle Group examines how innovative new methods of monitoring electricity demand can dramatically reduce peak energy use and prevent new, polluting power plants from being built.

The report, "The Power of Five Percent," analyzes the results of a $20 million pilot program in California that enrolled 2,500 customers over three years and implemented a variety of measures to try and control energy use.

The report's authors write, "A consensus is forming that the best way to ensure reliability and competitive functioning of markets is to deploy an integrated approach that combines traditional solutions involving the supply-side of the business with demand-side solutions that give customers the ability to control their usage, especially during times when the power system encounters critical conditions."

The report takes a look at the results of the California Statewide Pricing Pilot, which was the largest electricity pricing experiment ever undertaken in the United States. The study examined electricity use patterns for commercial and industrial customers in the Southern California Edison service territory during summer 2004 and 2005.

The customers in the study were all offered the use of smart thermostats, which automatically adjust air conditioning settings during the critical peak pricing hours from noon to 6 p.m. Over the two summers, the average reduction in peak energy use on critical days for small customers was 4.83 percent and for large customers 6.75 percent. But customers with the smart thermostat technology posted the largest peak energy savings -- 13 percent for small customers and almost 10 percent for the large facilities.

Making use of demand response programs based on advanced metering and dynamic pricing could drop the peak load by 5 percent nationwide over the next few years, and if the latest technologies are adopted widely, peak load could be reduced by 20 percent or more.

A reduction in peak energy of 5 percent would, the report's authors say, result in $3 billion in avoided electricity costs, including generation, transmission and distribution. On top of that, it that amount of reduction would eliminate the need for 625 new power plants to handle peak energy demand.

On top of the cost savings, successful demand response programs, the authors note, make for more competitive power markets, reduce price volatility, cut emissions from peak generation, improve system reliability and lessen the chance for blackouts and brownouts, and improve customer satisfaction.

Kind of a big quote box, but I felt this one warranted it.

If one needs yet another excuse why the oil companies are fighting controls and supporting deniers, here it is: the warmer it gets, the less gas they sell you in a gallon. It seems that in the States a gallon of gas is measured at sixty degrees farenheit; when it is warmer out the gas expands but you still are just buying volume, not energy content, so you are getting less. The warmer it gets, the more you are overcharged, by as much as US$ 1.5 billion per year. “People are paying for gasoline they’re not getting,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The industry says it would be too expensive to change all the pumps, yet in Canada, where the average temperature is colder and the customer benefits from getting more gas per unit volume, somehow the oil companies found the money to change to pumps that automatically adjust volumes based on temperature. Funny how that works.


Okay, let's finish it out with a read at your own leusure format:

Bush is at it again, this time he wants to cut 1.5 million acres of protected Spotted Owl habitat, which would reduce 33% of their only remaining habitat.

Who do consumers trust? You might be surprised, 60% trust scientists, and 50% trust environmentalist groups like Greenpeace. Business and government fell in the middle, but the bottom of the barrel are religious groups, whom only 22% trust, film starts, whom only 12% trust, and the media, whom only 17% trust. Looks like Brits and Americans have their heads screwed on straight.

China is now the biggest producer of CO2 in the world, having surpassed the US with an 8% increase over 2005 levels while the US reported a 1.5% decrease. Hooray for China, we're number 2!

Wind power entrepreneur invents great new personal wind turbine for home use, gets 3 times as much power as the old models and could revolutionize how you power your home.

Enjoy your reading folks. Green is on the march!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I'm a day behind, but luckily June 21st is a light day, so I can do today's later tonight. Hopefully people are still reading. ::taptap:: is this thing on?

The NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) has reported that in the last 8 years, 5.5 million barrels of oil have been saved by the use of hybrids. Sound like a lot? It's a drop in the bucket considering the US imported 8.3 million barrels a DAY in 2003 for fuel. But NREL also reports that for the past five years, sales of Hybrids have increased more than 70% a year. If hybrids became a significant portion of the US market, it COULD make a serious dent in our imports, until then it's just a little blip.

And if you think the US isn't buying enough hybrids, it may interest you to know that 70% of ALL hyrbids sold worldwide are sold in the United States. US automakers believe that within a decade, hybrids will make 10-15% of the US market, and new, clean diesel engine cars will also make up 10-15% of the market. Promising news coming from a US auto industry that is publicly viewed as being stuck in the past. Truth is, the US autoindustry is better than anyone gives them credit for. The Ford Escape Hybrid is the best selling SUV hybrid, and all of the Big Three are coming out with a combined half dozen hybrid models in the next few years, including GM's Volt hybrid plug-in. And their quality ratings match up with the Japanese Big Three, by and large, as well, especially given the large number of Toyota recalls recently.

The energy bill has been decided by the Senate. Democratic efforts to include billions in tax breaks for renewable energy by taxing billions from the oil companies failed dismally. CAFE standards will be raised, and I'll get you the specifics on that tomorrow. It's something like 35MPG by 2020.

Speaking of hybrids, they're making their way to Chicago's cab companies. NY Cabbies have had Ford Escape hybrids for the last two years, and save as much as $6,000 a year in fuel costs, which more than makes up for the price of the car. They're also over 175,000 miles, and are still holding up well. The same, as I previously reported, CANNOT be said of the Toyota Prius.

Read at your own leisure:

Waste Management takes over program to recycle CFLs for free

Four Canadian companies win awards for Sustainability and Greenness inventions

UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) studies say that people are paying a lot more attention to sustainability
Posted by Tarrsk (Member # 332) on :
Thanks again for the updates, Lyrhawn. It's a pleasure reading through them each day. [Smile]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Okay, today's report:

The Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center will sport Canada's largest green roof, just in time for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The building will serve as the international broadcast center for the games.

New Jersey has decided to take the lead on reducing carbon output. Their legislature has passed, and their governor will sign, a measure to reduce their carbon output by 15-25 percent of current levels by 2020, and 50% of current levels by 2050. That makes their measures more than twice as stringent as California's, and are matched only by Minnesota. Their legislature said that in the face of a glaring lack of leadership from the federal government, it's time for the states to step up and take the lead. Funny what the green movement is doing for states' rights.

You've heard me talk recently about ethanol vs. OPEC. Some market analysts are writing that OPEC is rumbling left and right about the US' big drive towards alternative energy, and they aren't happy about it. But their question is, Why hasn't OPEC flooded the world with oil? Seriously, like I said before, if OPEC opened the spigots and flushed us with cheap oil, every ethanol company in the US would collapse, as Americans flocked back to cheap oil. Some analysts, SeekinAlpha in this case, think the reason they haven't is because they simply can't. And they might not be wrong. Iran is already producing less oil than they are allowed to, Iraq is still in shambles, and much of the production from Saudi Arabian oil wells is water. And those are the virtual OPEC Big Three. While I don't think we're necessarily at a global point of peak oil, could it be that OPEC's power and clout in the world of oil isn't quite what it used to be? Only time will tell.

Chrysler is surging full steam ahead on all sorts of automotive fronts. They've committed to working with Bosch, MSU and Mercedes-Benz to make diesel a serious player in the US automarket. They're lining up advances in big SUV hybirds, new engines, new powertrains, new transmissions and other designs, all will give decent sized boosts to fuel economy and efficiency, and all will be coming out in the next couple years. I'll say it again, the US Big Three aren't going anywhere.

Okay, now I have five developments that are all very exciting, and I'll be quoting them all in full:

New PHEV tax credit could make Volt $6K cheaper

The Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives (the goofy name means they handle tax legislation) has apparently approved a bill proposed by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) that could provide a huge boost to cars like the Chevy Volt. The bill HR 1331 would provide a tax credit of up to $6,000 to people who buy a plug-in hybrid vehicle that has a battery capacity of at least 4kWh.

Folks who have or are considering investing thousands of dollars to upgrade their old Prius or Escape will be out in the cold since the bill specifies "New Qualified" vehicles. The base credit would be $3,000 + $150 for flex fuel capability + $250 for every kWh of battery capacity over 5kWh (up to a maximum of $3,000). That would give a vehicle like the first iteration of the Volt with a flex-fuel engine and 16kWh battery a credit of $5,900.

It's not clear from the wording of the bill if a diesel hybrid that can run off of biodiesel as well as petroleum diesel would qualify for the flex-fuel credit. If this comes to pass, it at least takes the cost of lithium batteries partly off the table when it comes to developing mainstream PHEVs.

Considering GM is aiming to make the Volt an affordable car, meaning less than 30-40K, a 6K slash in the price could be a huge boon to sales, especially considering the vast fuel savings (and considering how friggin sweet it looks).


Vice-President of R&D for A123 (a battery company) is optimistic on the Chevy Volt's new battery.

Today I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Bart Riley, co-founder, VP of R&D and CTO of A123 Systems. We discussed A123’s battery system and how they are going about making the Volt’s battery pack system.

This interview is important in that is reveals the first details available about A123’s plans since the June 5th announcement by GM that battery contracts had been awarded

He indicated that A123 has over the past five years developed a battery system that has “unprecedented safety, power, and life.”

Specifically, they developed a nanophosphate cathode that differs from the cobalt-based system currently used widely in laptop and cell phone batteries. Those lithium cobalt dioxide cathode batteries can become unstable when charged or overcharged or abused and are subject to explosion. A123’s new safer cathode material nanophosphate, uses no cobalt, is not an oxide, and thus has no stability or safety issues. The cells can heat because they are high-power but cannot explode. Indeed the cells are already on the market in power tools.

A123 is collaborating with Continental AG to make the battery pack system which will meet GM’s requirements. Continental will put a large number of A123’s cells into a plastic case designed to handle the “abuse of the vehicular environment” and develop computerized cooling and battery management electronics that will examine each cell insuring that it does not come out of its ideal cycle of operation. There will clearly be a give and take between the two companies.

An important fact, Dr. Riley also noted that cooling the cells is important not for safety reasons, but because it is a “life issue” as he calls it. GM wants the batteries to last for at least 15 years of use and temperature variability can reduce battery life and must be avoided.

He states that the battery science is already complete and can meet the goals of the project, but minor tweaks of cell design may still have to take place for them to interact properly with the pack. Also packs must be able to be assembled on a mass-production scale. Unfortunately, as of this moment in time, he noted that a prototype pack does not yet exist.

Comparing this project to the Hymotion Prius extender pack which uses A123 batteries, Dr. Riley states that the Volt is a whole new platform as opposed to simply extending the battery life as Hymotion drop-in supplement does. That system though, can extend Prius driving range to 20-40 miles electric

Compared to Altair Nano’s system, he states that A123’s has higher energy density. Altair Nano uses a different anode, and winds up with 1/2 voltage and twice the weight per cell.

He stated that A123/Continental has no direct knowledge of the CPI/LG activity and are essentially operating in the dark from one another.

The goal of one year to functioning battery pack is approximate. He indicates GM is setting out a very aggressive time-line, but initial unit delivery for prototype vehicles could come out even in 6 months since A123’s focus is on “making things happen”.

Overall I got the impression that Dr. Riley was highly confident of his batteries scientific merit, safety, power, and durability characteristics. He seemed to indicate creating the pack was more of a second act; just a simple engineering process, and should be pretty straightforward.

We might be a year away from a usable battery, and maybe only a year or two away from a production model of the Volt. Maybe that means I can buy one when my Focus finally dies! Another report I just read says that GM wants to have 1,000 Volts come off the assembly line by the end of the decade, so by December 2009.

Reinventing the wheel? Looks like the internal combustion engine has a new competitor

NEVIS stands for New Exhaust Valve & Intake System, while it sounds basically like a simple modification to current technology, is actually attempting to reinvent the ICE. From fourteen years of research and testing by Cesare Bortone, the new engine design claims to solve lots of problems. It is smaller and lighter, even though being built of steel, versus the aluminum-magnesium alloy BMW R6 3.0L block they tested it against, and only has two cylinders. The cylinders themselves are not as we know them, as they are apparently donut-shaped. According to its claim, the engine can range in its compression ratio anywhere from 7:1 to 38:1, which seems problematic at best, but likely has the most to do with the large power output from such small displacement. The stroke is considerably shorter, and uses energy of the engine's exhaust vacuum to assist in the combustion cycle, also enabling it to produce six times the number of power strokes per revolution than that of an ordinary four-stroke ICE. Also, the engine is a modular design, which, according to the NEVIS team, enables a manufacturer to easily configure multiple arrays of cylinders (2, 4, 5, 6, 8, etc.) in an engine from the same facility, even on the same assembly line, streamlining construction and production costs.

That's all well and good, you say, but it still burns gas just like everything else, and oil is running out. Well guess what, greenies: the NEVIS engine can apparently burn any type of fuel, from diesel, to any mixture of biofuels, to even hydrogen. The most basic explanation I can make out of the technical overview is that they took elements of both the regular gas combustion cycle and the diesel cycle, added their own innovations, and made the most efficient, versatile engine ever made. Sounds too good to be true, maybe, however the 1.0L prototype was successfully tested and run at the conclusion of the 2.1 million Euro grant-funded phase last year, and NEVIS Engine Company, Ltd. was subsequently formed to further develop and commercialize the engine design, as well as "manage all related intellectual property." Patents have been issued in both Europe and the U.S.


CFLs already on the way out, UK firm invents something better. New bulbs are more efficient, less polluting, and last virtually forever

A UK firm has developed a bulb that is more than 3 times as efficient as CFL bulbs and will burn brightly for decades. They claim that it will burn for so long that the building or appliance that contains it will wear out before the bulb does.

The traditional light bulb remained the way it is for so long because there wasn’t enough of an incentive to change. No one bothered to develop newer, more efficient designs because they were so cheap to produce. They waste 95% of energy and don’t last long.

That is changing now with CFL bulbs, because the green movement is providing an incentive to change. Now they are becoming even more advanced. The Economist is reporting that a team of researchers has developed a bulb that lasts, for all intents and purposes, forever. It’s also far more efficient, converting more energy to light rather than heat.

UK Company, Ceravision, have created a new bulb design that doesn’t use electrodes, so cannot burn out. It uses a magnetometer to bombard a small piece of aluminum oxide with microwaves to create an electrical field. Gas is then passed into a hole in the aluminium, in order to ionise it and create a glowing plasma. Traditional bulbs convert only 5% of energy to light, CFLs make use of around 15%, but this new design converts over 50%.

There are other bonuses as well, both financially and environmentally. The bulbs are expected to last for decades, so will need replacing far less often. This means less carbon emissions from production, and lower costs. It also doesn’t have the traces of mercury that CFL bulbs have, so will be easier and cleaner to dispose of once it does burn out.


Cost of PV cells to drop by 40%

The solar photovoltaic pricing eclipse soon will pass. "The solar industry is poised for a rapid decline in costs that will make it a mainstream power option in the next few years,according to a new assessment by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Prometheus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Global production of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, which turn sunlight directly into electricity, has risen sixfold since 2000 and grew 41 percent in 2006 alone...This growth, while dramatic, has been constrained by a shortage of manufacturing capacity for purified polysilicon, the same material that goes into semiconductor chips. But the situation will be reversed in the next two years as more than a dozen companies in Europe, China, Japan, and the United States bring on unprecedented levels of production capacity... Combined with technology advances, the increase in polysilicon supply will bring costs down rapidly—by more than 40 percent in the next three years, according to Prometheus estimates." By roughly 2010, then, electrical utilities will be looking to manage the competitive threat posed to their markets by distributed solar generation. Green ones will invest in it, the "un-green" utils will stay with their old advocacy tricks. Interesting times to come.

Exciting news today!!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Nothing big today, but there you go:

Bad news for E85 and your car

Running on E85 drops the mileage for your car by about thirty percent compared to gasoline, since ethanol only has about sixty percent of the energy per unit of gasoline. Running on ethanol also lowers the range of the vehicle as well as the power.

Not very good news for the energy source that is supposed to supplant gas someday. A lot of people are raising noise over the fact that the long term effects of ethanol have not been adequately studied. Ethanol does some funky things to your engine due to heat issues and evaporation. There is no study to date on what constant E85 will do to your car over the course of a half decade and tens of thousands of miles. So I guess you take your chances.

You may remember a rant I had earlier, either on this thread or another environment thread against bottle water. As I said before, bottled water is silly. The water in the bottle is basically tap water, and sometimes it isn't even as clean as tapwater. And yet you're paying a premium for it, while at the same time are creating an environmental nightmare.

Well big names are joining the fight. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that bans the sale of single serving water bottles on all city owned property and buildings. The city is also banned from using any public funds to purchase said water bottles. Residents who sign an online pledge not to buy plastic water bottles can get a free stainless steel water bottle from the city for free. Banning bottled water isn't a first in SF, Salt Lake City has already taken the same step.

Newsom says that from the studies he has looked at, more money is spent on bottling a transporting water per barrel than is spent on the same thing for oil. Newsom fully expects that Coke and Pepsi, as well as others, will lash out hardcore at the Mayors who join in on the drive, but he says it's a fight he intends to win. It's a bold move, and if he can actually pull it off, weening his city off plastic bottles, he'll be a Green champion.

Here you can find a short article and table that describes remaining coal reserves in the US. We don't have 250 years like the media likes to tout, it might be closer to 100, maybe even less. But what's important here is to look at the states with all the coal...then look and see where their congressmen vote on coming energy legislation.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I'm just getting caught up for the past couple days. I can't decide what's more exciting, the NEVIS engine or the new lightbulbs. Here's hoping htey don't look funny and bother people's eyes like the florescents can.

Thanks, Lyr!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I almost decided not to do a post today (been a long day of birthday celebrations, though I'm starting to wonder why we celebrate getting older, bleh [Smile] ), and really I should be going to bed since I have to work in six hours, but there's a mess of news and I didn't want to get bogged down tomorrow night (also didn't want to leave anything out and cheat you guys of great Green info!). So here it is, in a much abriged format:

You'll just have to read this one for yourself. Basically the gist of the article is that ethanol is a horrible, horrible inefficient idea. We should be getting our energy via solar panels and using them in electric cars, as it is much more efficient, and much cleaner, but instead we use ethanol, and to make matters worse, we use the WORST possible material for ethanol; corn. We should at least be using switchgrass, which Bush comically mentioned in the SotU speech a couple years ago, but he wasn't wrong. Cellulosic ethanol is the best we can hope to do, but it's still just a stepping stone. Per acre, solar power is still the best method, and the link has math to prove it.

GM has a new Diesel engine for it's heavy trucks that could get 30mph. When combined with a two-mode hybrid system, that could raise the MPG up into the mid to high 30's, and for TRUCKS. That, combined with many of their other cars which already get 30+mpg, could blow the new CAFE standards that Congress is setting out of the water MUCH faster than 2020. But there's a hitch, the cost of the truck would be thousands more, as the diesel drivetrain is twice as expensive as the gasoline one. Are truck owners willing to spend thousands more? Will Congress give them a tax break if they do it? Hybrid owners already pay a premium for their gas savings, and considering what fuel hogs trucks are, it might end up being worth it if a moderate tax bonus were tossed in.

So what's up with Toyota lately? The new Prius (which looks sharp by the way) has been pushed back by a year, other cars have been pushed back as well. The problem? Quality. They're going to start taking more time between prototype and production, more prototypes, more engineers, etc, the whole shabang. The problem is that Toyota's quality has been slipping in the past couple of years, and especially with US quality ratings creeping up on them (some US fleets even exceed Toyota's, but I doubt the average US buyer knows that), they don't want to lose their edge. So they will take longer in development to make sure they are producing a quality product before they bring it to market. Admirable. As a consumer I really appreciate that kind of attention to details and loyalty to a customer.

There's a hullabaloo over Ford India's new ad for the Ford Endeavour 4x4. The ad ( here in a .zip file ) depicts a giant suv on an iceberg with two little polar bears on a thin sheet of ice in the background. Many are apalled, given the fact that many polar bears are drowning and dying because of thinning and disappearing ice sheets, and global warming is to blame, and SUVs being the poster child for global see where I'm going with this. Personally I think it was just some dumb advertising execs that really didn't even think about it.

Worried about the aerodynamic nature of your Prius and still want more storage space? Some well thinking individual's solution to this problem is the inflatable roof rack. The idea being that if you have it permanently mounted on your roof it will drag and kill efficiency, but with the inflatable version, you can inflate only when you need it and save those previous drops of gas. Not a bad idea.

A little more news on that lightbulb that never burns out. You can check out their website and read about the bulb for yourself here. If you see anything particularly cool, feel free to post it here. Ceravision, maker of the bulb, estimates the bulbs will get well in excess of 20,000 hours of light time. An incandescent I just checked on Amazon, for 60 watts got 1,500 hours of life. Something about one of their other bulbs promised 50,000 hours of life, but you'd have to read the site more to see what the difference in numbers is. I think you have to buy a specific kind of lamp though to make this work, you can't plug these things into a regular every day lamp like a CFL or incandescent.

New forest mapping technology, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) will allow conservationists to scan forests more accurately than ever. A laser beam fired at the ground from a plane to measure the distance to the ground can record the exact position of up to 85,000 points on the ground each second. This data is then used to make a 3-D map of the area. This will allow conservationists to pinpoint most at risk areas of forests and allow them to focus their protection attention, as well as many other useful applications for forestry officials.

You can read and view this one for yourself. It's a map of the current drought situation in the US, and the south is especially getting nailed at the moment. But the scary part is that people don't much seem to care, even the people living in the areas. Water maintenance in this country is sorely lacking, and it could cost us down the road. Read the article for more specifics.

Consumers claim they want more Green products, but will they actually buy them? CEOs of major stores say no. They're producing a lot more green products, but they come at a higher price, and we don't seem yet willing to pay that price. Where's the disconnect?

I'll close with this, because it's something I hope to see myself, and hope you all see as well if you can:

Finally, the film Manufacturing Consent was show in London and the Canadian artist and film director Ed Burtynsky answered questions after the screening. A documentary about landscapes that have been transformed by man, particularly by extraction industries such as coal and strip mining and iron ore, it focuses on China with its massive dams and huge factories employing thousands of people.

Burtynsky, along with the director Jennifer Baichwall, talked about their travels there. In some locations the Chinese were reluctant to let him shoot or talk to the people. The film is not available publicly there, although it is being pirated all over, but his photography book is for sale. Many in the audience were annoyed when Burtynsky said that he "is not overly political so that people will be drawn to make their own decisions". He said that he walked a "razor walk" because if he "was too much on the side of human rights and the environmental issues his work would become less open and he gets painted into a corner". He tells CEO's that he can't prevent a dialogue from going on. But he does perform political actions, for example with the proceeds from some sales, he sent 2,000 safety goggles to a factory along with a translated letter saying that the workers should use them or else they would go blind and insisting that the employer maintain them.

Burtynsky said that his photos and the film are a lament for places lost. The loss is so complete in China that one can drive for four hours there and see no birds or trees because the environment is so stressed. The sky is always hazy, never blue because of the coal burning. He called himself a "subliminal environmentalist" because he is aware of the tension between shooting for beauty and being an undercover reporter. The consequence of urban existence is horror and he is going to the source of it through his photos so that we can comprehend it

The point of the documentary, as focused on in China, is what destruction we've wrought on the environment, and to dispel the notion that Man can't effect the environment on such a grand scale. You can see the website for the video here. And on that site is the trailer, which can be viewed separately here.

I thought the trailer was a bit dramatic, but the subject matter is pretty dramatic, so I guess it's okay. I'll let you know when/if I get information on the film and possible release dates in the US.

Edited to add: I snooped around as quick as I could to see where the movie would be, and apparently it is debuting in LA at a Landmark theater on July 6th. I expect it will make its way around the independent movie house circuit around the US over the next few months.

[ June 26, 2007, 05:36 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
I've got some news to add:

From CloudCorp-
Friday representatives of Horizon Wind Energy, LLC of Houston, Texas visited the CloudCorp office and officially informing <local person's name> that this fall there will be a groundbreaking for a 100 megawatt wind energy farm in Cloud County!! The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the Cloud County electric energy was signed by Empire District Electric Company of Joplin, Missouri on June 19, 2007.

Of course, that's from the Optimist Club e-mail, so take it with their grain of exaggeration. But still, it's good news. [Smile]

The bad news is, they're more likely to complete the ethanol plant (corn) in this county before the wind farm gets started. [Roll Eyes]
Posted by JonnyNotSoBravo (Member # 5715) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
The problem is that Toyota's quality has been slipping in the past couple of years, and especially with US quality ratings creeping up on them (some US fleets even exceed Toyota's, but I doubt the average US buyer knows that), they don't want to lose their edge.

Can you post some linkage to back up your claim that Toyota's quality is slipping?

The top 5 compact cars in Initial Quality, according to JD Powers, are
1. Honda Civic
2. Toyota Corolla
3. Hyundai Elantra
4. Kia Spectra
5. Toyota Prius
Initial Quality is only the quality for new year model vehicles within the first 90 days, so we should look at Vehicle Dependability Studies as well.("Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS)—VDS measures long-term quality after three years of ownership. Therefore, the 2005 VDS measures the dependability of 2002 model-year vehicles.")
J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
The Vehicle Dependability Gap between Luxury and Higher-Volume Brands Narrows Significantly

Lexus and Toyota Models Each Rank Highest in Four Segments; Honda Models Rank Highest in Three Segments

Toyota ranks 5th in the VDS in 2006 (the 2007 one hasn't come out yet). Where was it in the VDS of 2005? 7th.
For 2006, Toyota ranked fifth overall with 179 PP100, up from seventh place in 2005.
So going from 7th to 5th means quality is "slipping"?

I appreciate this thread a lot, but I'm taking your editorializing with a grain of salt. Thanks for the Consumer affairs link about the Prius, though! (I own one, and know to save up extra money now or trade it in in a few years)
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Oh I know that I editorialize, but that wasn't from me. Toyota is the one who decided to overhaul their research and production habits because they felt their quality was slipping, not me. Besides, I certainly wasn't dissing them, I even said I laud their efforts to continue making quality cars. Therefore when I said "their quality has been slipping," I really don't think it's that far of a stretch given the reasons proffered by Toyota for why they've decided to make such a change at their company. But, thanks for the research and links on Toyota's quality! If they're doing so well, I wonder why they decided to make any changes at all? (not being snippy, that's an honest question that I don't have an answer to).

You're welcome on the Prius link. I'll try to get you more information on the forthcoming new Prius whenever I come across it, if you're looking to trade up. [Smile]

Thanks for the story Tstorm. I don't think I posted it yesterday, but I ran across an article that talked about coating giant balloons with solar cells and raising them above big cities, where open space is at a premium, to collect solar power from high in the air and then pipe it back down. An interesting if not totally implausible idea at the moment. Give me an hour and I'll do today's update.
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
Cool. I've got a minor update on that wind turbine project. According to more reputable sources I've acquired since yesterday, the deal is done. Construction starts this fall, the land leases are being signed with farmers (one of my sources is a relative of a landowner), and they'll build 33 turbines, initially. At ~3 megawatts (MW) per tower, that's about 99MW total.

So*, the wind farm beats the ethanol plant to the punch, in Cloud County, Kansas. Of course, they've been working on this for four years, whereas the ethanol idea only struck a few months ago. According to the paper, three to four years is about the average startup time for wind farm projects.
Posted by Shawshank (Member # 8453) on :
Thanks a lot Lyrhawn- thank you fo the time you put into this thread!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
It's no problem at all, I'm just glad people are getting something out of it. Sorry there wasn't a post yesterday. I had it all set to go, and then my computer abruptly shut off, and I didn't feel like doing it all over again. Don't worry, you didn't miss anything huge. For today however:

The DOE (Department of Energy) has given out $375 million to three different research groups (mostly universities) for studies on cellulosic ethanol. The goal is to make it cost competitive with gasoline by 2012. I think this is a good step, and a good stepping stone to get us to biobutanol, which itself is not the final goal, but it's better than the status quo.

The US Army is paying 244,000 dollars to UGM Technology to develop all electric trucks. One of the articles I meant to post yesterday but didn't was that US Army commanders were pleading with the government for renewable energy stations in Iraq. They wanted to be able to provide power to bases without having to truck in fuel in very vulnerable convoys that are easy targets for insurgents. They were turned down by the government.

New survey finds Americans would drive less if gas was more than $4, but would by and large not walk, bike or take public transportation. Apparently we'd rather not go anywhere at all then not take our cars to get there. To be fair, that's because a combination of huge urban sprawl and poor public transportation outside of huge city centers like NYC makes this impractical. You can view the full survey and results here.

Here is a look on what the future development of ethanol might look like through 2020. Basically it's a long drive towards biobutanol and cellulosic ethanol.


Edmunds video review of the new 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid. They think it's the best hybrid on the road, check it out, it's a YouTube link.

Goldman Sachs, one of the powerhouses of Wall Street, describes here the five things they would like to see to keep the Green Sector of the economy growing, and it's spurring investment. They see the Bush Administration as a hindrance however, and hope the next President will be more open to growth.


The USDA recently changed the guidelines for what can and can't be labelled organic food. For anyone who eats a lot of organic food, you might want to check this out.


The southwest is the fastest growing part of the US, and people are dangerously building houses at the edge of, and sometimes IN forests. Severe lack of water in the southwest (which makes its growth questionable to begin with) makes their homes extremely vulnerable to forest fire. We condemn people for building on tornado alley and near hurricane prone areas, so shouldn't we be trying to stop this behavior before it becomes another bloodbath?


To punctuate this point, read this article. There is no rain forecast for Las Angeles before September. That's insane. Vegas by the way should be applauded for their water conservation efforts. They're growing exponentially, yet managed to cut 18 million gallons of water use in that time span. We need to get SERIOUS about water conservation in drought prone zones. LA's Sierra water sources, which give it up to 50% of their daily water needs are running dangerously low as well.


LED tube lighting here, CFLs already on the way out.


PG&E announced a new deal today for building a new type of solar plant (on a small scale) in California.

California utility PG&E today announced deals with San Francisco solar startups GreenVolts and Cleantech America to build photovoltaic solar power plants. The projects are relatively small-scale - 2 megawatts for GreenVolts and 5-megawatts for Cleantech America - but represent a move by a major utility to use solar power stations close to urban areas to supply green energy during peak demand. To date, utilities like Southern California Edison (EIX) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE) have tended to contract for massive megawatt solar thermal power plants to be constructed in the Mojave Desert far from the cities they will supply. That often means billion-dollar transmission lines must be built or upgraded.

GreenVolts, which was featured in Green Wombat's Big Solar story in the June issue of Business 2.0, will build its power plant on just eight acres in Tracy, a farm town turned exurb about 60 miles east of San Francisco. The company has developed a high concentration photovoltaic technology that features microdishes that track the sun and focus its rays on small but highly efficient solar cells. Rotating platforms hold 176 of the dishes (image above). The Tracy plant goes online in 2009. Earlier this month, GreenVolts announced a deal to build a prototype power plant for Avista (AVA), a Spokane, Washington-based utility.


Edit to add:

I just found a couple new pages. A lot of my info comes from Green bloggers who all talk to each other and spread around press releases that are largely buried and never see the light of day, so often I'll see the same article on six different sites because they are sourcing it from the same parent site. But a few of my sources are print media, and those are leading me, slowly but surely, to new sites NOT from bloggers that have some info the bloggers don't. Anyway, here's some new info:

Calsunenergy CEO Alex Boyer has a tough schedule. He has to hold meetings at night because he's got science camp in the daytime.

That's because Boyer is pretty young. He goes into the eighth grade in the fall.

For Calsunenergy, however, it's not unusual. The company--which is trying to develop a concentrator for solar cells and come up with a way to convert heat generated by solar cells into usable energy--is founded by kids in grade school and junior high. CTO Shaun Boyer will be in sixth grade in the fall. The VPs of marketing and sales will start fifth grade later this year.

The company has one patent application on file and has entered the California Clean Tech Open, which gives prizes and office space to winners. Greenvolts, which has helped commercialize a solar concentrator (a concentrator focuses additional sunlight on a solar cell to increase electrical output), got its start at the open last year. Now it's signing deals.

Calsunenergy is based in Santa Clara, Calif., which sort of figures


Here is my featured article for the day.

The gist is that we for the most part use meters for our home electrical use that are 50 years old, which harken back to a time when energy was plentiful. Part of the problem is that we charge the same rate for energy during the day as we do at night. Whole power plants sit idle during the night waiting for the daytime power rush when electrical use is ramped up, and then they are shut down until tomorrow. Meanwhile at night, energy is wasted all over the grid as people sleep.

The idea to fix that is to charge less for energy during the night and more during the day at peak hours. This should spur people to use the cheaper energy at night for whatever tasks they can push back. It also brings up the issue of a programmable house, which helps reduce energy costs as well, but I'll get into that another time. Read the article, it's about big savings, both in electricity and in money for the US people.

[ June 28, 2007, 03:47 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I wanted to do a separate post about the Chevy Volt and some specifics concerning it.

Currently there is a competition going on between CPI and A123 for who will get to make the LION battery pack for the Chevy Volt.

You can listen to podcasts (interviews) with the lead designers of the batteries for A123 and CPI at those links. The info from the researchers is good, though the guy doing the interviewing sounds like he couldn't possibly be less interested in the answers he is getting from what has to be a list of questions he's reading off. If I hear him say "that's terrific" or "that's interesting" one more time I'll hurt him something fierce.

Anyway, currently the batteries are still being researched, but it's far from just an idea. A123 has already invented the cells, it's just a matter of getting them packaged together into a single battery, and then getting that battery into a car. A123 thinks this could happen as early as December 2007. CPI is optimistic about their pitch because the materials for their cells are plentiful, easy to produce and cheaper to make. CPI says that the battery is already basically done, they are just tweaking the chemistry and design to meet specific specifications from GM. All in all CPI sounds a lot closer to being complete than A123, as the latter doesn't even have a prototype yet, and CPI is already steaming forward on their full sized prototype. The guy being interviewed said they certainly expect a working prototype by the end of December this year, which is optimistic. Both battery companies seem pretty optimisitic about getting a production ready battery out there LESS than a year from now, even though GM is saying a year is the goal. I think that really speaks to how aggressively GM is pursuing this technology. Both battery makers believe 15 year battery life is perfectly reasonable to expect, though CPI has said 40 years isn't out of the question.

The average life of a car is considerably shorter than that, but, having a battery that operates at that level of efficiency for that long only gives more credence to PG&E's idea to mass purchase PHEV batteries for electric storage that I talked about awhile ago, which I think will only make the cars more affordable as they are accepted in the US market, and I think that helps get the foot in the door for mass production.

As far as affordability goes, GM's North American Chairman, Bob Lutz in May said that he believes the price point for the consumer on the Volt will be less than $30,000, which I think is great news, and will make the car amazingly comeptitive, especially when combined with the proposed PHEV tax credit I mentioned earlier. The PHEV credit for the Volt would be almost $6,000 under the proposed guidelines, which would make it cheaper than some Hybrids are now. Lutz also said the car will have a range of 750 miles on a single tank of gas and a single full charge. For me, someone who literally drives less than 10,000 miles a year, I might only have to fill up once a month, or less, so long as I plug it in every night, and maybe not even that much if I charge it up every night. The idea is tantalizing.

Rest assured the Volt is far more than just a concept car. GM has already allocated engineers and funding towards making it a production vehicle, and it has a production schedule. They expect to spend 500 million dollars on the program. Frankly I have to wonder about some recent statements from President Bush. He said the US Auto industry will have to spend literally over a 100 billion dollars to drastically overhaul fuel economy standards. Yet GM can make the first mass produced viable PHEV for half a billion? Sounds like fear mongering to me.

Lutz also accused the federal government of doing nothing to help automakers, and instead were only hindering them, and I see where they are going with this. Their point of view is that we should be moving to the next big thing, away from the old fashioned ICE and on to something new, but instead, the government is forcing them to moderately increase MPG standards while offering nothing in the way of help in developing new technologies. In other words, they'd do better to offer incentives to spur a grand new R&D project on next gen energy rather than a goofy little MPG upgrade that won't get us anywhere when the average American still loves to buy gas guzzling cars. Lutz reiterated a call I've heard from many others that the government should institute a higher gas tax to reduce the demand on oil and make their investments in cleaner cars more viable, and I think he's right.

Anyway, this post's main focus is the Volt, which I think is a game changer if it lives up to expectations. I doubt I'll buy it the year it comes out (I refuse to ever buy the first year of a new model) but I will certainly be on the waiting list to get one in 2010 or 2011.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Jeep wins top awards and a lot of respect in Europe. They made a couple diesel powered Jeeps that get great fuel economy, beating out European SUVs.

Cleaner cars have saved 5 million tons of CO2 over the last decade.

Spain a Green Energy powerhouse. Second only to Germany in wind power production, they get 27% of their national energy needs from renewables.

University of Arizona is going to lease it's giant biodome (artificial closed environment).

Fighting back against sprawl - The Greening of Detroit focuses on water consumption this week. This is a podcast discussing the issue and possible solutions.

Featured article: Big Solar is coming to California

A coalition of western utilities is studying the feasibility of constructing a solar power plant in New Mexico that could generate up to 500 megawatts of green electricity. The project is being managed by the Electric Power Research Institute, a Palo Alto-based non-profit, and is being supported by New Mexico utility PNM (PNM), Southern California Edison (EIX), San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE), Xcel Energy (XEL) and Tri-State Generation and Transmission. El Paso Electric (EE) may also join the effort. The EPRI-led group will complete a study by the end of 2007 of various solar thermal technologies - which use the sun's heat to produce electricity - and then decide whether to proceed with the design, permitting and construction of a solar power station. Representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory Will participate as well as consultants from energy company Nexant and engineering firm Black & Veatch. A few large-scale solar thermal power station projects are already underway. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have deals with Stirling Energy Systems to generate up to 1.75 gigawatts of electricity from its Stirling dish system. Northern California utility PG&E (PCG), meanwhile, is negotiating with BrightSource Energy to provide 500 megawatts from solar power tower stations.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I just wanted to add something about better energy meters, utility rates, and PHEVs. Call this your weekly editorial segment:

I've talked about all this before but I wanted to package it a little bit better as a pro-argument for PHEVs, energy management, pricing and renewable energy in general in case any of you ever want to use these arguments when talking with people who are skeptical about all these changes.

Now I've addressed some of our problems. One, the majority of energy plants run 24 hours a day because even though they have very small demand during the night time hours, it is actually cheaper to just run the plant and let the energy bleed off into the grid than it is to shut down the massive machines and then start them back up a few hours later. Additionally, during the peak daytime hours, more plants and more capacity has to be brought online for just a few hours a day to meet the extremely heavy needs. When even that isn't enough, you get rolling blackouts.

Two, many renewables aren't generating constant flows of energy 24 hours a day. Solar for example is really only providing power during the day, and wind has far more power generating capacity at night, but demand is low at night and that power is wasted. Likewise the power is wasted from regular plants as well.

Three, energy rates from power companies are the same regardless of whether you are purchasing that energy during peak or off-peak hours.

So what should our goal be? I think our goal, first off, should be to not have to rely on backup power plants to meet our demand during peak hours. I think we should come up with a system that is more efficient, and by that I mean uses every drop of energy that we produce so none of the waste products from that creation are created for no reason at all.

Solutions, and why this is a good thing for you the consumer:

First off, charge more for power during the day and less for power at night. It's a common practice to charge more for peak hours, it's what convinces people to go to a matinee instead of an evening show, because they want to save a little money, and movie theaters want to make labor costs during the day worthwhile.

Second, replace all those old power meters with new ones. The old ones are inefficient, and new ones will be able to record when you are using your power and will charge you at a different rate. Replacing old power meters by the way, even without new pricing or grid technology would net us a national 5-10% savings in energy. In other words, just changing the way we measure the energy we use will reduce a possible tenth of our overall need.

Third, major tax breaks for PHEV vehicles to get them into production faster and get them on the road. PHEVs, or Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, don't really exist yet on the market, but they will by 2009 with the introduction of the Chevy Volt. The Volt is an electrically driven car (unlike Hybrids) that can go 40 miles on a charge, but when you run out of power, the small gas powered engine will turn on and power the battery, which will then discharge and run the vehicle. It's incredibly efficient, and will save the consumer tons of money in fuel costs. Also keep in mind that if all these cars are being charged at night, they will be getting the discounted energy price, increasing their savings over a regular ICE car even more.

Fourth, make PG&E's new grid technology a national standard. We need to improve the grid anyway, it's horribly outdated, and we're getting massive losses in electricity that has to travel over great distances. It's just plain wasted, and as more applications will rely on easy access to power and less on wasteful fossil fuels, efficiently transferrable power will become necessary. Furthermore, if a PHEV can charge itself during the night and then power your house during the day, you'll be able to not only save money by using low nightly rate energy during expensive peak hour times, but that will take huge stresses off the energy industry. It also works if you're simply selling the energy back to the grid, but selling it back to the grid at a higher rate will mean you're literally getting paid to do nothing, you're theoretically leasing out your car's battery as a mini-power plant. It will also make PHEVs cheaper if PG&E's plan to buy used PHEV batteries works. What they want to do is take batteries that can no longer work in cars and put them in energy substations all over the country. Those batteries can then store the energy that is usually wasted and use it to stablize the demand during the day. It's a brilliant use of recycling, and in the process will make PHEVs more valuable and should make them less expensive to the consumer. There's an obvious drawback to this, as one wonders what the point of having an electric car is if you bleed off all the power for your house and the grid, and that's a real concern, but you can control when you sell power back to the grid or use it in your house. You can program the car to let go of energy or when to save it. So if some day you know you'll be on the go, you keep your energy, but if you're sick or taking the day off, let go of that power and put it to good use! When you magnify that behavior times the 250+ million cars in the country, it's a game changer.

With more and more renewable energy generating capacity coming online every year, with the price of wind turbines and solar panels dropping at staggering rates, and with electric cars becoming a viable reality, I think this is the crucial moment we can make a switch away from old ICE cars and not only make a big dent in CO2 emissions, but we'll do so by not just NOT wrecking the economy, but by giving it a HUGE shot in the arm. This is the kind of game changing innovation that has kept America near the top for so long, and we should embrace it while we can. The savings aren't just for corporate America either by the way. Americans, while still getting relatively cheap fuel and power over a global average, still pay a lot in their yearly fuel and energy needs, mostly because of a wasteful lifestyle. Americans could save thousands of dollars a year in this changeover, and that more than pays for the expense of making the change.

Technologically we're just about there. This isn't stuff just on the drawing board, much of it is in production or in the middle to end stages of development. I just hope we don't cheat ourselves out of the benefits our efforts have given us because we're too short sighted and too attached to the past to see the great things that are in store for us by making a change.
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
Here is my featured article for the day.

The gist is that we for the most part use meters for our home electrical use that are 50 years old, which harken back to a time when energy was plentiful. Part of the problem is that we charge the same rate for energy during the day as we do at night. Whole power plants sit idle during the night waiting for the daytime power rush when electrical use is ramped up, and then they are shut down until tomorrow. Meanwhile at night, energy is wasted all over the grid as people sleep.

The idea to fix that is to charge less for energy during the night and more during the day at peak hours. This should spur people to use the cheaper energy at night for whatever tasks they can push back. It also brings up the issue of a programmable house, which helps reduce energy costs as well, but I'll get into that another time. Read the article, it's about big savings, both in electricity and in money for the US people.

As something of a night-owl myself, I would love this kind of pricing! (In addition to the efficiency improvements the article touts, of course.) I do wonder if businesses would resist that kind of pricing change though. For myself, I work during the day so most my appliances at home are turned off until evening hours when the computer, TV, etc get use. But for my employer, the lights, computers, heater or AC, are all on most during the day when it would be more expensive under the new pricing.

Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
I've only been reading bits and pieces here, but thanks all the same, Lyrhawn, for your time and effort. [Smile]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Originally posted by Enigmatic:
Here is my featured article for the day.

The gist is that we for the most part use meters for our home electrical use that are 50 years old, which harken back to a time when energy was plentiful. Part of the problem is that we charge the same rate for energy during the day as we do at night. Whole power plants sit idle during the night waiting for the daytime power rush when electrical use is ramped up, and then they are shut down until tomorrow. Meanwhile at night, energy is wasted all over the grid as people sleep.

The idea to fix that is to charge less for energy during the night and more during the day at peak hours. This should spur people to use the cheaper energy at night for whatever tasks they can push back. It also brings up the issue of a programmable house, which helps reduce energy costs as well, but I'll get into that another time. Read the article, it's about big savings, both in electricity and in money for the US people.

As something of a night-owl myself, I would love this kind of pricing! (In addition to the efficiency improvements the article touts, of course.) I do wonder if businesses would resist that kind of pricing change though. For myself, I work during the day so most my appliances at home are turned off until evening hours when the computer, TV, etc get use. But for my employer, the lights, computers, heater or AC, are all on most during the day when it would be more expensive under the new pricing.


That's true, but it might also spur them to make efficiency changes in the office to reduce costs. For example, there are a ton of little things that can be done, like changing the settings in the computers in the office so that they hibernate or standby when not in use. They could switch to more efficient lighting that uses less wattage. If they own the building or could work out something with the property owner, they could look at a wind or solar plant to install on the roof and then take in the savings all over the building, which is more of a long term investment.

As increased night time use and decreased daytime use balances out, so too would prices. The idea is to keep energy use balanced so there's less waste. And until then, people will perhaps pay attention to day time efficiency that until now they have all ignored because there was no real incentive to.

Furthermore, this should make Green Architecture even more attractive. Buildings that make better use of lighting, better water management and use electricity more sparingly are cheaper to operate, and earn back their slightly more expensive price tag quickly and earn more money for themselves than you need to invest over time. We're living with an infrastructure, and largely using behaviors that were invented and formed when energy was cheap and plentiful, and with that no longer being the case, it's time we changed the world around us and our attitudes.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Today's articles, in a cut down abridged form, but better than the links I use on lazy days, I have some special stuff at the end that you should see, if you ignore everything else:

GM, BMW and DCX have partnered up on hybrids, and the fruits of that partnership will be felt in the fall when a two-mode hybrid version of the Chevy Yukon and Tahoe come out this fall. They will be but a few of the many hybrids coming out for the 2008 car year. The hyrbid market is on the verge of an explosion.

Gas rationing in Iran and the civil rest that follows is leading many to wonder what would happen in the US if we had to go back to gas rationing as well. For anyone who is wondering why Iran is gas rationing when they have some of the biggest reserves of oil in the world, it's because their refinery capacity is a joke, and they import more than 75% of the fuel they use, and even their pumping capacity is slowing down.

Former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman has recently said that in fact she didn't leave the EPA because she wanted to spend more time with her family, but because she could not in good conscience sign the revised rules that Cheney wrote for coal plant modifications. The change allowed coal plants to make updates without putting in equipment to clean emissions. The court has since found that the modified rules violated the Clean Air Act. My respect for Whitman has gone up, but it's still suffering from her handling of the post 9/11 clean up air quality issues, that are only now coming back to haunt us.

I think I mentioned this one before, but Waste Management is putting forward $400 million to convert 60 of their landfill sites to methane capturing power plants. Methane emissions in the US from landfills account from 34% of our total methane emissions. Capturing that and putting it to good use could go a long way towards cutting our problematic emissions.

It's almost that time of year for the farm bill. Stay tuned for future updates on this tricky subject, but the basis, from an environmentalist's point of view is that I think we need to cut subsidies to major producers, institute greener farming practices to both safeguard our farmable land and make food cheaper, while revitalizing the small farmer's place in America. More to follow.

The PHEV tax credit has been removed from the Senate version of the current energy bill. That doesn't mean it is dead, but it's on life support. Toyota has released a statement against using LION batteries in cars, this after postponing the 2009 Prius X, which was to feature a LION battery that would improve performance greatly, and which shifts focus of who will be the first to build a PHEV from scratch to GM, and maybe even Ford. Toyota says the technology is unsafe, but if you listened to the podcasts I posted a couple days ago, the battery makers themselves have some pretty in depth explanations on why they are safe with the newer technologies being introduced. Mostly I think Toyota is 1. Pissed off that people are converting Priuses to PHEVs in garages and 2. They can't make the technology work as fast as they would like and are afraid of US carmakers cracking the market before they do. So they'll attempt to stop the tax credit before they have a chance to enter the market. With the Prius X pushed back to 2009 at least (or sooner, if they decide to stick with a NiMH battery), I can understand their nervousness. According to many articles, car analysts think that with Toyota's recent soaring spike in recalls and quality issues (yeah I know we just had this discussion, but I'm not making it up, this is from the industry people), they are nervous about bringing a new technology to market before it is 100% ready.

To be fair to Toyota, some of the reason for the spike in recalls and quality is that they are producing a lot more cars than they used to be, which will inevitably lead to more problems, but that isn't the whole story. If I have the time I'll go into a bigger story on Toyota's problems, but this is a Green thread, not a car thread (despite the links between them).

Edit to add:
And I didn't know this before, but the PHEV tax credit has much more to do with CONVERTING existing hybrids into PHEVs, which is what Toyota was so uproarius about. And they might have a point. Using current technology LION batteries, it probably would be pretty dangerous, when you consider that it's taking a full year to develop the battery for the Chevy Volt, in particular because of concerns for overheating and fire risk.

Hopefully we'll see the type of PHEV credit originally envisioned. within the next year or two before PHEVs become a standard car and not an add-on

Apparently NYC has a target date of 2012 to have their ENTIRE cab fleet of 13,000 cabs switched to hybrids, from the looks of things that's largely Ford Escapes so far, probably because of the extra legroom they offer, but in the end it will be a largely diverse fleet. The changeover effort began in May.

Here is your featured article: Wow Energy has developed scrubber technology that is leaps and bounds better than anything we've had before. Could vastly reduce the emissions from coal plant stacks and other dirty factories:

Developing a cheap and effective technology to scrub clean the emissions spewing forth from thousands of factory smoke stacks around the world would go a long ways toward tackling global warming. With coal-powered utilities likely to continue mushrooming at a steady rate in rapidly developing countries like China and India, finding a way to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions has become a clear priority.

The aptly named Wow Energy may have just invented the technology necessary to help accomplish that challenging objective. Its proprietary technology, dubbed Wow-Clean, is superior to that of its competitors in one main respect: in addition to removing carbon dioxide from emissions, it also tackles sulphur, nitrogen and mercury. In recent tests conducted by a third party, Wow's technology was shown to remove 85 - 95% of heavy metal pollutants and up to 85% of carbon dioxide from emissions, compared with other scrubbers, whose technologies only removed an average of 50 - 60% of mercury from emissions.

The technology works by first cooling the emissions and then adding chemicals to allow them to be converted into water soluble, non-polluting compounds and solid particles that can then be washed out. It is highly versatile: it can be installed on coal-fired power plants, furnaces, incinerators, gasifiers, gas turbines and a bevy of other utilities.

By combining several scrubbing technologies into one, Wow-Clean is more efficient than its rivals, and cheaper as well. With costs ranging between $22 and $25 million for a typical 250 megawatt power plant, Wow's technology is about as expensive as that of single pollutant scrubbers, a clear advantage in an increasingly competitive market.

"This technology can make coal a clean and pollution-free fuel and allow industry to upgrade existing electrical generating units rather than build new, expensive and unproven power plants to supply the world's demands for clean power," said Daniel Stringer, Wow's chairman and the inventor of its breakthrough technology.

Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
I'm in favor of greener energy, especially increases in efficiency, but I want to make a few things clear that might not be obvious to the interested onlooker. Lots of green energy doesn't tap into totally new energy sources, so much as move it around from place to place. For instance, hybrid and electric cars use energy off the utility grid. That's quite an expensive form of energy, which was generated at a power plant, most likely from fossil fuels. So what hybrids do is not so much save energy as move the location of the burning from a car engine to a power plant many miles away. The good thing about that is that you can control emissions at a power plant much more easily than you can at the tailpipe. The bad thing is that there are a lot of losses along the way, such as transmission losses from the power lines heating up, etc. Also, batteries are made of toxic metals. They're expensive, don't last very long, and create a huge disposal problem. For these and other reasons, I think the time of the hybrid car has not yet come. I wouldn't buy one.

I do believe we will eventually need to use some other form of power for cars than gasoline. Hydrogen fuel cells seem to have the most promise to me for the long run. However, there are significant difficulties with those as well. And once again, hydrogen is not a SOURCE of energy. There are no wells of hydrogen we are tapping. It's a FORM of energy. You create hydrogen by breaking water into its components, which requires you to add the energy that you later get back out when you burn the hydrogen in a car. The advantages and disadvantages are largely the same as for hybrids. It's inefficient but moves the place where pollution is created from the car itself to a power plant somewhere where it can hopefully be cleaned up more easily.

Though I'm very much in favor of greening our economy, I do think people need to realize the underlying realities we're dealing with. A lot of the rhetoric in green energy isn't always realistic.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
That's quite an expensive form of energy, which was generated at a power plant, most likely from fossil fuels. So what hybrids do is not so much save energy as move the location of the burning from a car engine to a power plant many miles away. The good thing about that is that you can control emissions at a power plant much more easily than you can at the tailpipe. The bad thing is that there are a lot of losses along the way, such as transmission losses from the power lines heating up, etc. Also, batteries are made of toxic metals. They're expensive, don't last very long, and create a huge disposal problem. For these and other reasons, I think the time of the hybrid car has not yet come. I wouldn't buy one.
Mile per mile, energy from the power plant is cheaper than getting it from gasoline. Hybrids, or converted PHEVs are one thing, but new PHEVs were are electric cars from the ground up are a lot better than your average ICE car, for many reasons. First of all, you're right, it IS a lot easier to control emissions from a smokestack, especially with newer scrubber technology, than it is to control it from tailpipes, because let's face it, all cars on the roads aren't SULEVs. Second, every month we expand our energy sources from renewables, and in the next few years especially we're going to see an explosion in solar, and more and more testing in tidal and wave as well, and more wind as prices drop for the newer transmissions and turbines. So more and more you'll be getting your energy from a green source. Third, natural PHEVs, like the forthcoming Chevy Volt, do far more than just shift the weight around of where you get your energy from. They are extrmely efficient vechicles, and don't have the energy wasting properties (well, not as much anyway) of a pure ICE. ICEs waste vast amounts of energy through a very inefficient process. Running a car off the battery with a small ICE to power the battery is different, and much more efficient. You don't waste as much energy, which results in a net decrease in fossil fuel emissions.

Third, hopefully in the coming years we can fix power line transmission losses, but it certainly hasn't been a focus lately. We aren't spending enough time or money on infrastructure, not so much something in my favor as a hopeful look at the future and an admittal of failures, BUT, part of the magic of renewables is that many of them can be spread out and be placed more locally, so you aren't buying energy from a 1000 miles away, but rather from 10 miles away. Also, hopefully in the near future people could even supply their own energy for their PHEVs, which eliminates most of the problems anyway.

Fourth, I'm a little surprised you would bring up batteries as a flaw in Hybrids or PHEVs, considering regular cars have batteries that fail just as often anyway. Besides, when PHEVs become a part of the main landscape, they will last 15 years in cars, and probably go on to serve another 10 years in power substations if companies like PG&E have their way.

I think we're at the vanguard of a revolution in cars. And while I too think it is important to recognize the potential drawbacks of Green energy, even when it is better than the status quo, I also think unnecessary negativity should also be spoken against as well. No offense Tatiana.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Couple articles for you today:

Ford is trying hard to make up for years of laziness with regards to engine efficiency. Luckily they have some advancements in the pipeline to address this issue and make their ICEs 21st century players. Read here to find out what they have in store for us.

VersaSun and GM are bringing the first E85 fueling station to Washington DC. For the moment it's cheaper than regular gas, but few vehicles are FlexFuel and can actually use the fuel, and I have to yet again voice my disdain for ethanol from corn. We might as well keep using gasoline.

And I guess so long as we're using gasoline, it will help that Petro-Canada will be spending 25 BILLION dollars on a new oil-sands project to by fully operational by 2015 with production aimed at 285,000 barrels per day.

Sorry, this article is actually in German (a friend told me what it was and sent it to me), but the gist is that Berlin wants 15% of their traffic to be from bikes by 2015, and they are already at 12%. They credit this success with high gas taxes to discourage driving and fantastic upgrades to biking infrastructure making biking faster and easier than driving. If only we could get on board with that!


Featured articles

Al Gore has an Op-Ed piece in the New York times about the problem of Global Warming, the dangers we face, and what we should do to solve the problem.

And I'll take this moment briefly to plug his new book "The Assault on Reason." It's a bit of hard read at some points, simply because I don't believe Al Gore is, ironically, a very efficient writer. He tends to repeat himself a lot, but his points are good, and more than a call to arms it is an indictment of the Bush Administration for a dozen different reasons, and he gives a LOT of sources for his information. It's worth the read.


Scientists are working on trying to figure out what's up with noctilescent clouds, basically bright shiny clouds that aren't the Northern Lights. These clouds form in the Mesosphere and usually stay to the north or south pole, but bow they are creeping into Northern Europe. They've been spotted from space for the first time, and scientists will try and discover if this has to do with global climate change or not.

[ July 02, 2007, 12:22 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
No offense meant or taken. I am glad to see focus on greener technology, and I think it's really important for our future.

Regular car batteries are much smaller, of course, than hybrid or electric car batteries, and they generally last longer, so the problems with toxic waste disposal are many times worse with hybrid or electric car batteries. If utilities start using them, this will help some, but won't really solve the problem. You still have what to do with the batteries after they have dropped below the efficiency at which they're useful to the utility, and if lots of hybrids are sold, only so many used batteries can be stored and maintained by the utilties.

I am very much in favor of us doing things in a sustainable way. I just think we need to be realistic as well.

For instance, wind and tides and solar are good for niche uses, but they have their own environmental consequences and they don't make much dent in the problem. They can certainly be part of the solution, but not all by any means. 10MW here and 20 there can be a good thing, but a typical power plant generates 1000MW. So it takes 100 wind farms at 10MW each to equal that. The environmental disruption from those 100 wind plants will be significant, and probably much more than 1 power plant would create. They take up a lot of land, and disrupt wildlife, etc. Not to mention being eyesores. And because it's wind it's not as easy to control as our fossil or nuclear plants.

The most important thing we can do as consumers is be efficient. Turn your a/c off or up to 80 on the thermostat. Use the compact fluorescent bulbs, which save you money twice in the summer. Invest in double paned windows, additional attic insulation, weather stripping, and so on. Live close to where you work, or telecommute if possible. All these things result it savings for you as well as being good for the environment.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
With present day technology, I am forced to agree with some of your points, but only some, and many of them will be rendered moot in a couple years. But present day batteries are about to get a huge uplift with new LION batteries come online (and we're not talking decades, we're talking two years, tops). The batteries that will be used in the next generation of electric cars (which again, will be available in two years, tops) will last 15 years, and that's just to the point where they drop below 80% efficiency, and then they are still useful as secondary power storage before they are recycled. Most car batteries last what, five years on average? This is better than three times that in terms of efficiency and reducing waste. Considering there are more than 250 million regular old cars on the road, with hundreds of millions of batteries to be disposed of, moving to a better system can only help the environment. Either you aren't quite up to date on battery technology and where it's headed in the very, very near term, or you are arguing against cars entirely. I'm not sure which.

Power companies are building 500MW+ power plants with renewable energy, not just teeny tiny plants dotted all over the landscape. Control isn't necessarily an issue as far as functionality goes. When you put up a wind turbine, generally you know how much power it will average over the course of a month or even a day, and if that equals out to what they need, especially if more can be captured with battery storage, then reliability isn't so much an issue.

And yes they can be eyesores, but that depends on where you are putting them. Windfarms dotted over farmland are a financial boon to farmers, and who is really there to see them anyway? Who are they an eyesore to? And there's newer designs for wind plants coming online with zero to little environmental impact, besides, I have extreme doubts on the impact of a few bird strikes being worse than the tons of noxious fumes pumped into the air from fossil fuel plants or the tons of water that nuclear power plants use in a country with severe drought all over the place. As far as space goes, frankly, we HAVE the space, so why not use it? Why notbsacrifice space, in the world's third largest country, and in return get a healthier environment?

You're right though, certainly, in that reducing the demands we place on the energy grid are the single greatest thing that can be done to solve the problem. Maybe next week I'll do an editorial of sorts on things you can do in the home, from the simple, like buying new, better lightbulbs, to the more difficult, like home remodeling, and the middle, like driving habits, to reduce your energy load.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I'm in favor of greener energy, especially increases in efficiency, but I want to make a few things clear that might not be obvious to the interested onlooker. Lots of green energy doesn't tap into totally new energy sources, so much as move it around from place to place. For instance, hybrid and electric cars use energy off the utility grid. That's quite an expensive form of energy, which was generated at a power plant, most likely from fossil fuels. So what hybrids do is not so much save energy as move the location of the burning from a car engine to a power plant many miles away. The good thing about that is that you can control emissions at a power plant much more easily than you can at the tailpipe. The bad thing is that there are a lot of losses along the way, such as transmission losses from the power lines heating up, etc. Also, batteries are made of toxic metals. They're expensive, don't last very long, and create a huge disposal problem. For these and other reasons, I think the time of the hybrid car has not yet come. I wouldn't buy one.

Not completely true on the battery front. By all accounts, they are rated at least 150,000 miles, and both Honda and Toyota have recycling plans for the batteries.


How often do hybrid batteries need replacing? Is replacement expensive and disposal an environmental problem?

The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the car maker.

Battery toxicity is a concern, althoug today's hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

For a little more on recycling from HybridBlog

Hybrids aren't the end-all, be-all, but they are a completely acceptable first step, if only as a delaying move while the market sorts out the new green economy. If you are looking for a new/used car in the size of the hybrids, and can afford the premium that hybrids entail up front, I would strongly suggest doing it.


[ July 02, 2007, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: Bokonon ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Thanks for the post Bok.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
Nuclear plants don't use up water, of course, they evaporate it as a way of dumping waste heat. The water then would rain down again somewhere at some point. I suppose this does lower the river level but it's arguable how much over time, because of the fact that the evaporated water would most likely fall in the same river's basin, and so after a while it would reach equilibrium.

Nuclear plants produce very little in the way of pollution, compared to almost any other industrial site, and certainly compared to fossil plants. My plant is the cleanest industrial site I've ever seen, and I have worked in a lot of different industries. All power plants have waste heat, too, so they do the same thing with evaporating water to dump the heat. So when you compare nuclear versus fossil plants, nuclear are much better overall for the environment.

[ July 02, 2007, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
They still use it, lots of it. I know they don't produce a lot of pollution, other than the obvious nuclear waste, but they still use a lot of water, even if it is rained down somewhere else, possibly hundreds of miles away, which does absolutely nothing for the drought stricken area they may have just stolen it from.

In a country spotted with severe drought that is only going to get worse over the coming decades, water maintenance is a serious issue. I'm not saying we can't build more nuclear plants, I'm just saying that you're going to see water usage be a major issue in the coming decades, and for power plants that we expect to function for 40 years, that's a serious issue to be considered.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
Of course I'm an advocate for nuclear power, and have been since the 70s, and now I'm working in the industry so I know more about both the pros and the cons of nuclear power.

Waste is not really that big an issue. I think we're actually fortunate that Yucca Mountain has been delayed. Not the next generation of reactors, but the generation after that, will most likely be liquid sodium fast neutron reactors which will burn for fuel reprocessed spent fuel that is sitting at nuclear plants now. When our current fuel is spent, we've used up 5% of its energy, and it's dangerously radioactive for 50,000 to 100,000 years. Of course no repository can be guaranteed to sequester it that long. Who even knows what the geology of the earth will look like that far in the future? But if we reprocess that fuel and use it in fast neutron liquid sodium reactors, we can burn another 94% of the energy from the fuel, make uranium mining unnecessary, and have enough fuel for the forseeable future, and leave spent fuel with only 1% of the energy left that is only dangerously radioactive for 500 years. That is much more reasonable a time to keep it sequestered. I think we've been extremely lucky that we haven't glassified the spent fuel we have, and stuck it underground where it's unavailable for reprocessing. We're going to need that in 40 years or so when the next generation of reactors is nearing the end of its useful life.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
When will the next next generation of nuclear reactors be ready to go?
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
The reason I think nuclear is the way to go for most of our energy needs is that wind and solar just don't have the energy density we need. An analogy would be if you said to your daughter "we can't drive to school today, the car's out of gas" and she scavenged 10 D batteries out of her toys and offered them to you to make the car go instead. It's not the conversion really that's the problem, but just that there's not enough energy in 10 D batteries to back the car out of the driveway, even.

Wind and solar are awesome for the things they're good at. They just don't power cities. You're talking a whole different scale there. We need real power plants, either fossil, nuclear, or something comparable to those, and we need to be able to run them whenever the peak demand times are, and not wait around for them to be active, for the clouds to go away or the wind to blow or whatever. That is, if we want things like air conditioning, refrigeration, walk-in freezers at restaurants, elevators in high rise buildings, and so on.

If we're willing to quit building tall buildings, give up air conditioning, use iceboxes instead of freezers or fridges (assuming the ice is transported from the arctic somehow, and not frozen in an ice-house in town), and so on, then we can get by without fossil fuels and use mostly wind, tides, solar, hydro, etc.

[ July 03, 2007, 04:48 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
The next generation is being built now. They are still completing the designs, but are due to come online in the 2015 range and beyond. They represent a huge advance in safety over the existing reactor designs, but basically use the same fuel process.

The generation to be built after that is the one that will be the liquid sodium fast neutron reactors, I believe. They will probably begin coming online in 40 years or so when this next generation of reactors is nearing the end of their license period.

[ July 03, 2007, 04:49 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Your opinions on renewable energy sources like solar and wind do not match the literature I've read. Could you point me to some sources of information? Besides, I've never said we need to move to 100% solar and wind energy for the country. I just think they need to be a major component of whatever final comprehensive energy plan we come up with. I'm not necessarily knocking nuclear, but like you apparently think about renewables, I think it is very important that people understand the downsides and risks involved with pinning our hopes on some magic silver bullet, because the truth tends to be that they don't exist.

And what do you consider a "real" power plant?

Besides, 40 years? That's a long, long way away.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
I'm a cautious supporter of nuclear myself (son of a naval nuclear engineer, and grew up about 10 mile from the Seabrook nuclear plant), but I think liquid sodium plants might be a hard sell. Sodium is an evil, evil substance. Extremely caustic, and of course, you open yourself up to "Chernobyl!" fears, since I believe it used sodium as a moderator. Now, I'm sure they've advanced in engineering those reactors (and I'd be interested in hearing the details), and sodium is a better moderator than water, but engineering has never really been the nuclear industry's problem; PR has been. [EDIT: It appears that Chernobyl used graphite as a moderator, so ignore that point]

And, of course, nuclear only delays the inevitable, even if it is for a millennium or so. The real magic bullet is getting energy from a source that whill exist beyond the habitability period of the planet.

I still hope we can figure out how to tap geothermal energy... It's one of the few sources of energy that work around the clock.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Ask Iceland, they power their country 100% off of renewable energy, of which I think something like 90% is geothermal. They are currently working with China to help them develop their geothermal potential as well.
Posted by Mike (Member # 55) on :
Are liquid sodium fast neutron reactors proven technology? If so, why not start building them now? If not, how realistic is the 40 year statistic? Is it like fusion, which seems perpetually 50 years away?
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
You're right that Wind and Solar are not for supplying the majority of our power needs, they just make great sense in certain situations, and are good for incremental amounts of power. That reasoning doesn't require sources, just a look at the megaWatts in the literature you cite. 10 MW here and 20 MW there can be very useful as part of "this healthy breakfast", but cities typically require thousands of MWs to operate. I just want people to keep that in mind when they are making energy decisions. The alternative to cities using thousands of MW is for us to give up air conditioning, freezers, elevators, and so on. It's really a bigger problem than that, because all industrial plants that make practically anything use large amounts of electricity for all the motors, conveyor belts, shaping and forming equipment, and so on. For instance, a paper mill will use a great deal of electricity in the woodyard grinding up trees, then churning the chips in an enormous blender to make pulp, spraying this pulp out on a rapidly moving wire mesh belt to form a sheet, etc. We'd have to give up on having cheap and readily available paper, too, and ditto with practically any other product we use. So going backwards is not really a very good option. I don't want to give up all that stuff, you know? I don't think most people do.

I guess "real" was not a great terminology for me to use, but what I meant by a that is a power plant you can crank up any time of the day or night and get a large amount of electricity, hundreds of MW, thereby. Wind and Solar because they're only available at certain times and have such small output can seem somewhat toylike by comparison. I don't mean it in a disparaging way, though. I think those sources are great for the part they play. It just seems like many people mistake that part for something that could make fossil and nuclear plants obsolete, which it really isn't.

Geothermal has potentially great amounts of energy, but it's not available in most places. Iceland happens to be an excellent spot for exploiting geothermal energy, and it's great that they do.
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
Power companies are building 500MW+ power plants with renewable energy, not just teeny tiny plants dotted all over the landscape.

Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
It's true that sodium is nasty stuff. It burns on contact with air, which is a major downside. There have also been reactors of this type which use molten lead, too. Lead's horribly toxic, though, and has its own issues. I've got some sources on these reactors that I'll post. They are well beyond the research stage, but not in the years-of-successful-commercial-operations stage that PWRs and BWRs are at now. 40 years should give us plenty of time to get them phased in.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
No offense Tatiana, but I don't think you're 100% up to date on renewables in general. What you're saying just doesn't match most of what I've read on current renewable technologies, or for that matter on construction that is already taking place out west.

New wind turbines alone are 5MW powerhouses, and they build them in fields of a 20-100 or more often, when they build concentrated powerplants (as well as yes, smaller arrays spread out over distances). New sprawls of solar plants are going to be build by the hundreds of Megawatt. The power potential for tidal power in San Francisco Bay is measured in Gigawatts.

Try even going back over this thread and looking at some of the links and stories about large power plants being build with solar, wind and others. Beyond the fact that I find it nearly impossible to believe that people would spend billions of dollars on large plants that they know they can't get their money back out of, the science is really in on these things. Between focusing arrays and advanced transmissions and turbines, efficiency is way up, costs are way down, and they're sprouting up everywhere where it makes sense to put them.

Again, solar, tide, wave, geothermal, and wind, individually and as a team are not the silver bullet. They are an important component of our future energy plan, and at the end of the day I don't see why they couldn't account for 30-50% of our renewable needs at least, where feasible. The rest can come from a multitude of other places, in concert with a greatly increased efficiency standard in this country, which should help offset our demand through electric vehicles, I think in 40 years we'll already be in very fine shape.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
What worries me more Tatiana is contact with water... Sodium and water are a bad combo, it'll melt through just about anything.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Back to regular updates, sorry I've been letting them go, but it is a holiday!

There's slim hope of a gas tax hike in Congress. I've reservations personally about how it will effect the poor, but by and large I love what it would do positively for Green energy and the environment in general, to say nothing of the fact that we have some of the lowest gas taxes in the world.

A Georgia ethanol plant will come online in 2008 with an evential target production of 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. It will be the first cellulosic ethanol plant in the US, and will be a test bed of sorts for new methods and technologies in making CE a cost competitive method of production. I've talked at length about this subject before, but I'll sum it up with: Ethanol bad. Cellulosic Ethanol bad but much better.

McDonalds is planning to use old vegetable oil from their UK restaurants to power a fleet of biodiesel trucks that will supply the same stores throughout the UK. They say it will save 1.5 million gallons of gas a year, as well as 1600 tons of carbon.

For the third year in a row, Subaru's Indiana car factory has produced zero waste. All of the waste products for the factory are either recycled, used as energy or reused in the plant. The area around the factory is reclaimed habitat for wildlife, and many of the vehicles produced there are PZEVs, or Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (Vehicles that emit 90% less emissions than average cars today emit). Now that's a beautiful step towards sustainable manufacturing.
There's a bit of a fight going on right now in the coal industry. Exec Robert Murray is saying people who don't support coal are unAmerican. He's refusing to buy any more equipment from Caterpillar, who makes a lot of heavy mining equipment, because Caterpillar joined the council for climate change or something like that, in other words, they support measures to limit carbon emissions. Meanwhile GE is happy to see the argument front in center as they promote their clean coal technology.

I hadn't heard this before, but apparently buyers of the Hummer and Cadillac Escalade, get a $25,000 tax credit when they buy their cars because they are over a certain weight class and are considered potential vehicles for farming. It's a loophole that many in Congress want killed soon, but car dealers and makers are calling it an unfair tax hike. Frankly I think it is BEYOND ridiculous that those cars got a break, and ridiculous that GM thinks they actually deserve it.

Mexico will spend 6 billion pesos this year to plant 250 million trees all over Mexico in an effort to replenish aquifers and reforest areas previously deforested through logging.

The EPA is taking some heat over who they use as their experts in determining what is bad for your health and what you are breathing.


And here's a little snippet on health problems in China from pollution:

"Beijing engineered the removal of nearly a third of a World Bank report on pollution in China because of concerns that findings on premature deaths could provoke “social unrest”. The report, produced in co-operation with Chinese government ministries over several years, found about 750,000 people die prematurely in China each year, mainly from air pollution in large cities. China’s State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health ministry asked the World Bank to cut the calculations of premature deaths from the report when a draft was finished last year, according to Bank advisers and Chinese officials." See some of the "lost" details of mortality figures, by category, below the fold.

"Missing from this report are the research project’s findings that high air-pollution levels in Chinese cities is leading to the premature deaths of 350,000-400,000 people each year. A further 300,000 people die prematurely each year from exposure to poor air indoors, according to advisers, but little discussion of this issue survived in the report because it was outside the ambit of the Chinese ministries which sponsored the research.

Another 60,000-odd premature deaths were attributable to poor-quality water, largely in the countryside, from severe diarrhea, and stomach, liver and bladder cancers.

The mortality information was “reluctantly” excised by the World Bank from the published report, according to advisers to the research project."

Here's a couple featured articles on wind power advances. Given the complaints of some about wind, that it's ugly, environmental concerns over birdstrikes, and bugs getting in the way, inventors have come up with both large and small ways of making wind power a better idea.

The first is a small answer to wind energy's problem. An inventor in Australia has won a small grant to get small wind powered turbines into production. These turbines are to be mounted on tops of homes, and are of a modular design, they can be added or subtracted as needed. It's estimated that six of them could power a small home and the excess energy could be sold back to the grid. The cost of each turbine? Less than $700 a piece. That's damned impressive, and at the moment, more cost effective than solar alternatives, and much better for northeastern US homes where solar power isn't as much a possibility as it is for our western or southern neighbors. They are quiet, they really aren't that much of an eyesore, and they are cheap. Looks pretty good to me.

The second is a big answer to wind power. Same problems as above, only instead of shrinking them, we put them out to sea. We put them out to see where we can actually better predict wind patterns, more easily keep them out of heavily trafficked areas and bird migration patterns. British energy companies are talking about building giant fields of them in the North Sea to power whole cities (yeah, whole cities, big ones). The thing is, renewable energy can take up a lot of space, but we have the space! Why not use wave power and put windmills out at sea? We all live on land on a planet that is 70% covered in water! In the US we have a lot of extra space. No one is living in the desert, so why not put solar power plants out there? It's making use of dead land. If we put power plants all over the Sahara, we could power Africa and Europe with power to spare, and I don't even know how much we could power if they used the new ultra efficient cells that have just come online.

My point is, renewables are insanely adaptable. We can build a solar power plant in the desert with a 500MW capacity, or we could build a 1MW powerplant on the roof of a car factory, or we could build a tiny 100KW array on the roof of a house. We could build huge fields of turbines in the Badlands to produce hundreds of MW of power, or we could put one 5MW plant on farmland and pay the farmer, or we could put six small turbines on your roof in the suburbs, or a few vertical turbines on the roof of an apartment building in the city, or big fields of them out in the ocean. Unlike nuclear or coal, which always seem to be gargatuan behemoths that suck up resources (currently) and in the case of coal spew huge amounts of poison in the the air, renewables are reliable (yeah, reliable), they're modular, you can build them in tons of different sizes and locations to suit the needs of the client, and they are now cost effective. They're a game changer, they aren't something you can brush aside.

Admittedly, 70% of that was a bit of a rant against what Tatiana was saying, but it's still all true, and all relevant [Smile] .

[ July 04, 2007, 02:01 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by rollainm (Member # 8318) on :
This is all really fascinating stuff. I just want to thank you for your efforts.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Special Extra Large Fourth of July Edition today! My car is in the shop and thus I have to bike almost 10 miles to work tomorrow, so I probably should be getting extra sleep tonight, but there's a ton of new updates for you guys, many of which are related to the recent discussion we had here. So without further pause, in mixture of abridged link format and my own cliffs notes versions:

Ganges River might be gone by 2030. The Ganges is the source of water for 500 million Indians, to say nothing of it's extreme importance to Hindus. Reports blame melting glaciers that supply the river with water.

Tata Motors, the Indian car giant plants to produce and market a smaller 3,000 dollar car for India. But many criticize selling so many cars in a country where 1 million vehicles are already sold, increasing at a rate of 16% per year. Frankly I don't see how we in the West can criticize them, but on the other hand, it's wise to get them to understand the mistakes we made so they can avoid them, rather than follow our footsteps.

Environmental Protection Agency disregards the recommendations of their own scientists and proposes weak protections for our air. Adopt the Sky program takes off.

The Farm Bill this year might not be getting the same media that the energy bill is getting, but it's nearly as important. We spend tens of billions of dollars on subsidies to agribusinesses, basically huge farms that truck their foodstuffs across the entire country to your supermarker, but do little to help lead sustainable lives and help small growers. Read here for some small ideas on how to improve how we spend our money.

Alright, I'm breaking this into two posts, because it's just too much for one, so here are your featured articles for this post. They're about a few things I've been harping on lately: Bottled water, wind power, and drought:

1. I hate bottled water. You've all heard me say it before. It's unnecessarily wasteful, and in the face of a billion people around the world not having access to potable water, it's irresponsible, so say nothing of the environmental damages. A French Company has invented a new kind of plastic bottle made from memory plastic, which is smaller but still holds the same amount of water. It defies the laws of physics! Okay not really, but it weighs 3-6 grams less than an average bottle of water, and when you multiply that over the 160 billion liters of water that we consume, that's real savings.

But I wanted to emphasize this article on bottled water. It's a concise, well written article on when we started using bottled water, the consequences, and what not to do. I urge you all strongly to read it. For example, half the people in Fiji don't have access to clean drinking water, yet we bottle and ship their water over here where it's the hottest thing on the market now. Most telling I think was this clip:

And for this healthy convenience, we're paying what amounts to an unbelievable premium. You can buy a half- liter Evian for $1.35--17 ounces of water imported from France for pocket change. That water seems cheap, but only because we aren't paying attention.

In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National Park. It's so good the EPA doesn't require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.

Buy a safe, reusable plastic water bottle and reuse it over and over. You'll save yourself a lot of money and you'll probably even be healthier than what comes in the bottles.

2. Even if you don't read the article, just click this link to see the picture. Drought is here to stay in America, and at the moment it's staggeringly widespread. Many cities and even states banned fireworks this Fourth of July because conditions were ripe for the starting of fires, it's just too dry. We need to get serious about water conservation all over the entire country, not just in desert areas.

3. The US is adding wind power by the thousands of megawatts this year, and added thousands last year. In 2007 we'll be generating 31 billion kiloWatt hours of wind power. And wind power is growing at a rate of 25%-30% every year. And for anyone who says that renewables are economy killers, more than three dozen companies at least are hiring as a result of the wind power boom, which means more jobs for Americans. Information gathered from the AWEA. The AWEA expects to add 3GW of generating capacity in the US this year, which is respectable for an energy industry in it's infancy.

That's all for this post, there will be another one in a half hour probably (these things take a little while to read through, type up, and double check), as your ID4 special, and it'll focus on cars mostly.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A Chevy Malibu hybrid has been spotted on the streets of Metro Detroit. It's yet another in a long line of GM hybrids to hit the market in the next year or two, and will share the same drivetrain as the Saturn Aura hybrid.


Both France and Japan recently made announcements over new faster than ever bullet trains that have broken speed records set by the last generation of trains. Japan has plans to build full scale Mag-Lev trains on Honshu by 2030, making them the first large scale MagLevs in the world. France on the other hand seems to like their super high speed conventional trains, and with new computer assisted braking to assist in turning corners at high speeds, they might not have a lot of problems with it. Hooray for high speed rail.

Chrysler has officially entered into an alliance with Chinese car company Chery to build low cost cars in China to be shipped around the world. No word yet on when they will really hit the pavement in Europe and the US, especially due to poor crash test ratings of Chery cars built to date, but with Chrysler's advanced technologies and manufacturing methods, it might not be that long before mainstream Chrysler's are rolling off Chinese assembly lines.

A Land Rover dealership in Oregon is offering carbon offsets for the first 50,000 miles for all cars bought there. The idea is that if you feel guilty about buying SUVs, this will offset your guilt as well as your carbon.

The University of Iowa has developed a new nano-sphere that will work as a much better catalyst in turning animal fast and vegetable oil into cleaner biodiesel. They believe that unlike the previous methods used, which were dangerous and used noxious chemicals, this new process will leave a recyclable catalyst, and will be much cleaner. They believe this new catalyst can be used in current plants without modification.

North Carolina University researchers have come up with a capacitor that is seven times more efficient than the current highest capacity capacitors. This might give the EEESTor battery some life, which might be a big advance in electric cars and hybrids.


Toyota hybrid sales are up 69% so far this year over 2006 sales. Sales of the Prius in particular are soaring, up 93.7% over 2006, and that is WITHOUT the tax credit that they used to get which expired this year. Some pretty staggering numbers, and maybe a good indicator of why Toyota is the number one producers of cars in the world. I still think, that even though GM's sales have plummeted so far this year, they've set up a great turnaround program for themselves over the next few years. They have a half dozen hybrids coming out in the next few years, new engine designs, new diesel designs, sales looking stronger in Europe, and the Chevy Volt is always getting good press. Which leads me to....


For anyone who still thinks that GM isn't serious about the Chevy Volt, I urge you to read this article in the Detroit News. GM has spent 4 billion dollars on advanced propulsion in the last few years, 100 million specifically on the the design for the Volt, they have hundreds of engineers on the project, they have weekly meetings on technical glitches, they have a whole design studio set up for the car, which they say is 90% designed as of right now, and the list goes on. They are serious about getting this thing on the road before the end of the decade.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A lot of stuff today again, I found a few more sites with information on them, so again, my daily entries will only be longer and longer, though I'm starting to really scrutinize some of the entries to give you guys the best information every day. I'm split between giving you ALL the good stuff I find and picking and choosing. If I pick and choose I figure you'll be more likely to read a more select group, rather than add 20 articles and have you skim over them, which is why I usually pick the best ones and save them for the end. Any thoughts?

The natural gas industry is scratching the back of the coal industry. Proposed cap and trade systems would severely hinder coal energy production in this country, or at least make it much more expensive. Fossil fuels users are banding together against the Green movement, and the DOE seems to be looking at clean coal and nuclear power as the answer, no mention of wind, solar, etc.

China swears they are environmentally friendly, but the facts don't seem to back them up on that one.

Not so much having to do with Green Energy, but it is an environmental interest story! Nature photographers have captured the first image of a living "smiling" bushbird. It's kind of creepy and kind of cute. Judge for yourself.

Phillips Electronics wants to help you save energy, and they've created a website with tons of helpful little ideas on minor switches you can make in your everyday life that will reduce your energy usage.

Think California is taking the toughest stance on climate change? California wants to reduce their emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Oregon has one upped them, and wants to lower theirs to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. I post a week ago about northeastern states stepping up to the plate, notably New Jersey, who is calling for major cuts. California is getting the most attention because as the biggest state, with the most consumers, with the highest budget and biggest GDP (per state), they have a lot more oomph behind their legislation. When they set standards for cars, they often become national standards, because it's too expensive for mass produced cars to be made for a market as large as California, and then a separate car for the rest of us. It should be noted though that many Northwest states have banned new coal factories in their states, and California has banned the import of coal energy from outside the state. Many are calling for a mandatory minimum amount of energy that must be produced from renewables. The west is the best place to do it too.

On that same note, recently release memos show that the Department of Transportation attempted to influence state legislators in California to derail their greenhouse gas emission cap laws that Bush is currently trying to get thrown out. Looks shady to me.

The Energy Savings Trust has recently released a report titled, I kid you not, The Ampere Strikes Back! The point of the report is to highlight how much energy we expend on the digital devices that entertain us, which is often much more than we realize.

The East Kentucky Power Cooperative will be paying a multimillion dollar fine for upgrading their facilities without putting in new cleaner technology. They still claim they did nothing wrong, but will pay the fine to get the matter over with. (The fine is $750,000, but they also have to pay $650 million in new pollution controls)

Turkey will be building a 130MW wind farm starting next year, more than doubling their current capacity. They'll be using 52 2.5MW turbines, half the size of GE's largest model, for the project.

Some Chevy news for you before I get to the featured articles of the day. Bob Lutz, had the following to say about the heavily touted Chevy Volt: "This vehicle is so important that it is getting maximum attention from all of the top Product Development leadership and from the senior people in powertrain." They're hinging a lot of their comeback on this car, even if it doesn't look like it. They've sunk billions into the technology the car is based on, and will spend billions more in the coming years. They want to be a serious player in the Green auto industry, which leads us to...

Chevy is going to ramp up their Green advertising, and to be fair, they have a lot to brag about. They have eight cars that get better than 30mpg, offer more E-flex vehicles (hey at least they are trying to roll with the punches), are the furthest US company on hydrogen fuel cell cars, the Chevy Volt, etc. etc. They want to change the perception that US automakers, them in particular, are inferior, environmentally, to Japanese cars.

I read an interview the other day that underpinned the importance of the design of the Volt. The Honda Accord hybrid is being discontinued, due to lagging sales. But the Prius is surging ahead. Analysts think that is because of the distinctive style of the car. It makes a statement, it doesn't look like anything else on the road, and it's a status symbol, not of wealth, but of commitment. The Accord looks exactly the same as its non-hybrid twin, but has a little stamp on it that says Hybrid. Designers at Chevy hope the sharp styling of the Volt will help it take advantage of the same characteristics that might soon make the Prius a better selling car than all domestic non-hybrid cars.

Here are your featured articles for the day.

Giles Belley has created a sharp looking device that you can plug all your other devices into to manage your power consumption. This device will turn off your devices if you leave them idle, to save on energy. It's pretty fancy looking too, and I think could easily be decorative as well as functional.

These floor panels can reduce your home heating costs, your electric bill, and are made from recycled cheap materials. Building green can earn you more green than you might think.]web page


This I thought was really cool. You remember perhaps the article I linked to a few days back about the new scanning technique that will allow environmental protection groups to better map out forests and find the best places to save? Well a computer in Tennessee has helped do the same thing. When 230,000 acres of protected land was put up for sale in Tennessee, an environmental protection group wanted to save as much as they could, but didn't know what to save. So they pooled together 150 years worth of information and a high tech computer program mapped out the most endangered areas that needed protection. They were able to save 12,000 acres, which turned out to be all that really needed protecting, thanks to this computer.

That's all for today, stay tuned for more updates tomorrow! I'm thinking about doing a special editorial this weekend about solar and wind power, and possible futures for the country.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
The Honda Accord Hybrid was a car looking for a niche. It tried to be 2 things at once, and failed at both. On the one-hand, it was supposed to be a super-charged car with a V6 engine that the electric mottor added another 15HP to... Which wasn't exactly a lot. On the other hand, it was a clean hybrid... That was rated 35 highway. Not exactly a gas sipper by hybrid standards.

Oh, and it cost appreciably more than a comparable non-hybrid version.

Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
Oh, and the civic hybrid, also a look-alike to its non-hybrid siblings, is selling fine. In fact, according to figures I found, it was 11% of all Civic sales this past May.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Hey thanks for the link. That looks like a great site too. I didn't realize the Prius was being sold at that high a monthly rate. Amazing. I think the Escape and other cars would be selling even more too if there weren't shortages. But it takes awhile to ramp up production of newer models like that.

I think the sharp difference in look though between the Prius and say the Camry, the next best selling car, is part of the success though not all of it. The Prius still gets better fuel economy, but it's selling four times as many cars as the Camry, there's obviously something customers like more about it than the look alike brands.

Thanks again for the link Bok.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
The Escape is 3-4 years old, so I wouldn't consider it new by hybrid standards. It was the 4th (or 5th, if you consider the complete Prius redesign from Toyota Echo doppleganger to "UFO" [Smile] ) hybrid out there, I think.

If you want to be a real geek you can check out They have a real-world DB of mileage for all the hybrids. It is, of course, skewed higher than the general population since these are some die-hard hybrid types, trying all sorts of tricks to squeeze out the most MPG from their cars.

Honda's biggest problem has been marketing. They've been too content just playing second fiddle to Toyota, barely advertising the Civic, much less the Accord. Which is too bad, because the Civic is a great car that gets just as good mileage as the Prius without the complicated Synergy Drive.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
What was a large post, on everything from the launch of the most efficient plane in its size (the Dreamliner) and how dams are environmentally unfriendly for all new reasons has been shortened, due to the fact that Internet Explorer blows and it not only killed my post, which was more than half done, it also killed all my links, so you get a short version which what I found to be the best stuff of the day. I'll post it in two parts, to save against IE being a punk again. Either that or it's my computer, which has been acting very, very wonky lately.

A 190MW Geothermal project is under construction in SoCal right now. Ormat Technologies recently signed a deal with SoCal Edison to purchase 50MWs of that energy for distribution. I thought this too, was relevant given recent discussions here.

A report released in January by the DOE, MIT and ?? estimated the total US capacity for geothermal at 100GW of energy. That's a serious dent in our future energy needs, and the group believes that it is feasible to take advantage of all 100GW in the next 50 years.

This estimate is based on the potential energy that could be gained from advanced geothermal generation or Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), which will be explored over the next 15 years. It proposes turning potential geothermal sites into producing ones, through drilling and water movement using advanced drilling techniques. It's been tested in Europe and Australia with success and is a promising future technology. The needed investment cost for R&D over the next 15 years? $1 billion dollars. Chump change considering the money being thrown around right now on energy needs, and 100GW is nothing to shake a stick at. EGS is not without it's problems, like any energy production method, but it's non-polluting and requires no fuel, pretty major benefits.

153 world CEOs call for change to fight global warming

New tiny generator can create small amounts of energy from vibrations.


SCE (SoCal Edison) hopes to receive regulatory approval soon to study building new renewable transmission lines that could access between 5,000 and 10,000 megawatts of untapped geothermal and solar energy in the Southwest.

- In March, SCE launched its 2007 open, competitive solicitation for additional renewable power contracts, its fifth solicitation since 2002. Proposals were received in May, with contracts expected to be submitted to the CPUC for approval in December. Previous solicitations have secured for SCE customers 25 renewable energy contracts with the potential of generating up to 14 billion kilowatt-hours, enough electricity to serve about 2 million average homes for a year.

The actual output of renewable energy projects may be limited due to weather conditions and transmission availability.

- During 2006, SCE delivered 12.6 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, 16.8 percent of total power deliveries under California's renewable portfolio standard guidelines.


Three focus articles, your highlights for the day and then I'm going to do a post on cars.

India is doing some real pie in the sky thinking on power generation, literally. They're putting major investment dollars and research effort into generating solar energy in space. It's still a long, long way off, but it's the solar Holy Grail, and they're looking for it.

In one of those small efficiency changes that I'm always harping on, we now have concrete numbers on the waste caused by leaving computers on in offices over night. The energy cost to buisnesses in the US was $1.72 billion last year, and caused the emissions of 1,381 tons of CO2. All they have to do is turn their computers off at night, or, one time, change the settings on their computers to hibernate after a set amount of time.

President Bush has one of the worst records on protecting endangered species in US history (or to be fair, since Teddy Roosevelt, when that sort of thing started to matter). Members of his own Interior Department, and animal protection groups around the country lament not only his lack of willingness to help protect wildlife, but his reversal of past progress.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
So who is the big winner for renewables in the coming energy bill? First of all, that assumes that the bill will actually get passed, but let's pretend this is a 'what if' game. Well it looks like the big winners in the fuel market will be cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol. You've all heard me harp constantly about this too, and happily, it looks like Congress picked up on the murmurs in the Green crowd. Currently ethanol gets a tax credit per gallon, and in the current bill, cellulosic ethanol will get an additional 50 cent credit. Biobutanol will get $1.10 tax credit so long as the BB is made from cellulosic sources. All of this is great news, we need to quickly get past corn and sugar based ethanol, as fast as possible. These subsidies will be a great way to make them cost competitive, and combined with automakers producing more FlexFuel vehicles, will both ween us off foreign oil, and be more environmentally friendly than the status quo. The bill also includes big tax breaks for renewables across the board, but not nuclear or "Clean" coal.

On that same note, China, currently the number three producer of Ethanol behind Brazil and the US, wants to be on top. They're making a big push to increase production, which is the probable explanation for why grain prices have skyrocketed in China lately. Knowing this authorities are trying to get their own cellulosic movement going, so the country's foodstock isn't threatened by their growing need for fuel.

Minnesota wants to blend 20% ethanol with gasoline for sale to all vehicles. The American Motorcyclist Association is complaining, saying that no long term studies have yet been done on the potential damage that higher blends can cause to regular car engines not designed to run on ethanol fuels. Personally, I am very much with the AMA on this one. Jumping the gun on an untested fuel could damage cars for years to come, cost consumers billions, and worst of all, be extremely dangerous for the driver. Currently blends of no more than 10% are allowed (other than specific fuels like E85).

Here's a nice one, the Netherlands is offering a 500 EUR tax credit to retrofit their diesel cars with special filters to keep nasty pollutants out of the air. While it's true that diesel emits less CO2 than regular gas guzzlers, it has a lot of other harmful particulates that gas cars do not. Ford, in an act of generosity and business savvy is offering to modify all cars for...500 EUR, making the upgrade totally neutral for regular owners, and probably cornering the market on repairs for Ford. All new diesels sold in the Netherlands will be required to have the filter from now on.

Taiwan, always known to one-up the global marketplace when it comes to traffic control and street lighting, has announced that within the next three years all of its traffic lights will become LED based. The country's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has budgeted roughly NT$229 million ($7 million) for the project, which is set to begin in 2008, and will convert 420,000 traffic lights to the LED standard (350,000 have already been changed over). The MOEA claims the total savings in power consumption will be close to 85%. After the sweeping reform of its traffic signals, Taiwan will invest another NT$130 million to swap its street lights out for LED-based models. Nations of the world, the gauntlet has been thrown down.
LED traffic lights have several benefits. They're brighter, they need to be replaced less often which means less money spent on more bulbs, and less money spent on people having to replace those bulbs, they reduce energy costs by 85%, which both cuts energy demand (woohoo Green!) and for that matter saves the local government on energy costs.


Okay here's your featured article for cars.

Honda has had a class action lawsuit brought against it by drivers of the Honda Civic Hybrid. The claim is that drivers get drastically lower fuel ecomomy from the car than is advertised. It's a complicated issue.

Here's the article in the Detroit News.

Now back in the day, the EPA had standards for measuring fuel economy. They sucked. They finally realized after a couple decades that they weren't using real world driving practices and it was near impossible for regular people to actually hit those numbers. Under those old numbers, which Honda used in their advertising, the Civic had 49city/51hwy/50combined for fuel economy. Under their new guidelines, refined to reflect real world driving practices, the Civic gets 40city/45hwy/42combined. Keep in mind also that the Prius was rated at 60mpg, and that number has been attacked by several groups, anaylsts and now the EPA with their changed numbers.

Consumer Reports, when test driving the Honda Civic only got 26mpg in the city, which is 46% lower than the EPA estimate. Considering this car costs seven grand more than the non-hybrid version, if it doesn't get dramatically better fuel economy, it becomes something of a waste of money. John True, the man who started the lawsuit, said that no matter what he tried, he averaged 32mpg, still 10mpg lower than the revised EPA combined average.

Honda is claiming it isn't their fault, after all the EPA is the one who gave them the rating. And they rightly claim that a couple dozen things effect your fuel economy. Tired need to be well inflated, you shouldn't excessively start or stop your car, the air filter needs to be changed, cruise control needs to be used, etc. etc. So they have a point that driver use of the car can greatly effect it, but it's not widely known that more than regular cars, hybrids are very sensitive to how the driver uses the car when it comes to fuel economy.

Discovery efforts will soon begin to determine what Honda knew, when they knew it, and if they broke false advertising laws and knowingly misrepresented the fuel economy of the car. Honda I think is in a bit of trouble, they are trying to parse words with the fine print of their ads, which say both "results may vary" and "results will very." They have a point in that driving habits play a big role, but THAT big? That's a dramatic change in numbers, and considering fuel economy is the HINGE of the main advertising point for the car, I think it's an extremely valid complaint.

[ July 07, 2007, 06:32 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
Power plant would bury greenhouse gas.
For people worried about global warming, it's one of the Holy Grails: Figuring out how to affordably take greenhouse gases and permanently store them underground.

Now, a small Northwest company says it will do just that in a coal-fueled power plant it wants to build near the banks of the Columbia River in Southeast Washington.

I saw this in the paper yesterday and thought I'd contribute something to the thread. It sounds pretty cool, but I wonder how stable liquid CO2 is.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I've read bit about sequestration of liquid CO2. It's already in practice in some places, Canada comes to mind. The turn capture it from the stacks of nearby power plants, turn it into a liquid, and then pump it into dying oil fields. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it seeps into all the porous rocks and loosens up the oil which rises to the surface and increases output. When the oil field is beyond saving, they cap off the wells and seal the CO2 in there forever. But that's just one method.

I'm skeptical of sequestration on a large scale, but then I haven't read extensive reports on what kind of capacity in the US we have for basalt CO2 sequestration, what the success rates are in keeping it where we put it, whether or not it's economically feasible to do that rather than just build a renewable plant, etc. There needs to be a bit more work done I think before the jury comes in on Carbon sequestration, but at the very least, I don't like the idea of continuing with wasteful practices just because we've found a delaying action. I think too many will try to see sequestration as a silver bullet, and even that article calls it a "Holy Grail," and that will reduce the drive to build renewables. Sequestration could be part of a long term plan where coal made up a minimal percentage of our total energy production, but I can't imagine pumping literally billions of tons (trillions of pounds) of liquid CO2 into the Earth, year after year after year.

I know out in the West they are working on partnerships with algae farmers to sequester the CO2 by pumping it into tanks of water and creating algae which is later sold for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is producing ethanol. But either way it strikes me as a much more Green friendly method of sequestration. I don't want to be a downer, I merely caution you all against taking sequestration, presently, as a major solution. It's something in the pipeline that I don't think we've really come to a consensus on.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :

In your first post on the 7th, you have a link about US geothermal capacity. Are they saying that even if they built every geothermal station they could, they'd still only get 100 GWh?

Cause Wiki has us using 3.979 trillion kWh annually. If my math is right, that's 3,979 GWh, meaning every geothermal station could only produce 2.5% of what we use now.

I'd rather use that than coal, but I'm with Tatiana here. How much of a dent can renewables really make? How much energy do we as a country have to give up to make a significant difference, and where should we cut it?
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
Well, I have averaged a little under 40MPG with my Civic Hybrid. I average between 35-40 in city, and have gotten EPA on long highway trips.

And yes, driving habits are HUGE, especially dealing with smaller engines and with inherently high MPG rates.

Look at it this way, most efficient is a percentage of a value. So if underinflated tires is a 5-10% cost, then on a car that gets 25MPG, that's 1-2.5 MPG, that's basically noise/variance between tanks. In a 50MPG car, that's 2.5-5MPG which is much more noticeable. Accelerating a lot can cause efficiency problems, and some parts of the hybrid systems can lend to inefficiencies. The autostop feature can be more inefficient because starting a car costs more then leaving it running, if the time between stop and restart is less than 5-7 seconds.

Also, the Hybrid is only 2-3 grand more than a similarly equipped Civic (The hybrid is based off the EX trim)

Maybe they did hide it, but they were using government figures...
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
AvidReader, I don't think the report is saying that 100GW is the maximum that geothermal could provide. I didn't read the whole report, but from the "executive summary":
With a reasonable investment in R&D, EGS could provide 100 GWe or more of cost-competitive generating capacity in the next 50 years. Further, EGS provides a secure source of power for the long term that would help protect America against economic instabilities resulting from fuel price fluctuations or supply disruptions.
I think that the "cost-competitive" bit is probably a bigger factor in limiting the estimate to 100GW than the total amount of geothermal energy available. As technology improves so should the plants' efficiency and cost effectiveness, probably opening more geothermal possibilities in the future.

Obviously, geothermal is not going to be an overnight solution to our energy problems. But if we can get that 100GW running for the comparitive cost of building 100GW of coal or oil plants there's really no reason not to. (Except if there are specific concerns with the locations of individual plants, I guess.) 2.5% on a renewable, non-polluting source is better than 0%, IMO.

Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Liquid CO2?
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
2.5% on a renewable, non-polluting source is better than 0%
I completely agree. I'm just never sure what the Green big picture is supposed to be. We can make little changes, and they're good, but I've never figured out how we're going to cut C02 emissions back to not killing the world limits. At least, not without having to give up stuff, and I'm never sure what and how much will be asked of me.
Posted by theCrowsWife (Member # 8302) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
2. Even if you don't read the article, just click this link to see the picture. Drought is here to stay in America, and at the moment it's staggeringly widespread. Many cities and even states banned fireworks this Fourth of July because conditions were ripe for the starting of fires, it's just too dry. We need to get serious about water conservation all over the entire country, not just in desert areas.

If America got over its love affair with the flush toilet, it would save massive amounts of water every day, reduce pollution, and return nutrients to agriculture where they belong.

Compost, don't flush.

Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
I think the Green "big picture" is a lot of little changes. "Think globally, act locally" is one of the popular slogans. What will be asked of you? I dunno, what sort of changes can you make without having a drastic impact on your life?

Let me put it this way: I care about the environment and I want to reduce CO2, but I sure don't want to give up my air conditioner this summer! But I drive a relatively fuel-efficient car, and I'm hoping by the time I need to replace it I'll be able to afford a hybrid or something better. I recently moved, and when any of the incandescent bulbs here burn out I plan on replacing them with the compact flourescent energy-saver kind.

I guess I don't see where a lot of the green/renewable alternatives are even a sacrifice. Much of it is energy-efficiency improvements that would wind up saving you a lot of money in the long run (often after an initial investment, though). I think we just have to weigh the benefits and costs of each thing individually, and if it does ask us to give up something, decide if that's a change we can live with or not.

Just my $0.02, it's not like I'm running for office or anything. [Wink]

Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I sure don't want to give up my air conditioner this summer!
It really bothers me that we've become so used to air conditioners that we don't think of them as a luxury anymore.

In hotter climates, people wear winter coats when the temperature gets down to 70 degrees. There's no reason we can't aclimate ourselves to temperatures in the 80's without the need for an air conditioner. I usually don't turn mine on unless the outside temperatures are in the 90's.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A couple things here -

First of all, Bok, even if Honda did use the government figures, that won't excuse them. The EPA had crappy testing standards that they changed with good reason, and Honda did their own tests, as all car companies do, to see what their MPG would be. Toyota got some static because they tailored the car to match the EPA's old driving tests to artificially raise what they could advertise for fuel economy.

If Honda KNEW that their car had worse fuel economy than what the EPA said and still used the numbers, then I think it was fraud, and I think they'll get in trouble for it.

Now, to the big picture:

This is what my editorial was going to be on, so I guess it makes sense to do it here and now anyway.

First of all, you have to consider that the energy use in the US includes fuel used in cars. Transportation is 28% of our total energy costs and uses in the country. The thing is that we currently import a vast majority of that energy for ourselves.

Now before we start, let’s look at a breakdown of US energy usage (as of 2004, via Wikipedia).

Industrial 33%
Transportation 28%
Residential 21%
Commercial 17%
(just like Sim City!)

Now before I go into breakdowns of each sector, the general renewable argument to the future of our energy needs is three things: Efficiency, Microgeneration & Large Scale Renewables.

Efficiency is the big one, it’s going to reduce our total need. We don’t need to produce 3.5TW of energy of energy with renewables if we can cut that number down by reducing our total energy need. There are hundreds of efficient products out there that we can purchase that won’t change our way of life at all, but reduce our total energy usage. These are mostly in the residential and commercial sector, which are 38% total of our energy use.

Next comes microgeneration, in other words, powering your own house or office building. It can mean anything from a small wind turbine or solar array on the roof of your house to the large 1.5MW or 3MW wind turbines on an office building like the one in Abu Dhabi. Or the solar array at Google that produces 1.5MW of energy. Yes, this is small scale production, duh, it’s microgeneration. But if everyone produces their own power, it dramatically reduces the amount that needs to be mass produced, and with smaller numbers, renewables become much more likely to have a major impact. Microgeneration has a couple of drawbacks, I won’t sugarcoat it. You’d have to pay for repairs to the equipment yourself, unless there’s some sort of insurance that could come with it. And you have to be wary of claims, as not all turbines and PVC will get the production they advertise, it depends on where you live. But the benefits in my opinion outweigh the drawbacks. You become your own power company, you no longer have an electric bill, and you might even make money when you sell power back to the grid. Also, producing your own energy means that the energy won’t have to come from miles and miles away, which reduces the transmission losses that power incurs. It also means that when we start driving electric cars, we can fuel them ourselves from home. Exploration is already being done on solar car ports, so we could park out in the lot, shop, and come back to find our cars partially or totally charged, or the same thing when we go to work. I’ll get to the benefits of that later when I break down transportation.

That brings us to the third, mass production of renewable energy. Fact is, if we REALLY wanted to, we could produce ALL of our power through renewable energy. If we used solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and wave, we could, but it would take a ton of space. Think something along the lines of the state of Massachusetts covered entirely in solar voltaic cells and plopped down in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Especially with newer more advanced cells, it’s possible, it would just be expensive and the transmission problems would be a nightmare. Coal doesn’t have to be totally eliminated, just reduced to the levels where with filters and caps, and forest replantings we can negate their carbon impact to sustainable levels. We can still use gas in our cars, but nowhere near as much as we use now. Maybe one day we’ll get rid of those things entirely, but we should be looking at short, medium, and long term solutions. In the short term, efficiency! Make sure your car is operating at peak efficiency, make your home as energy efficient as possible, suggest energy saving measures to your boss at work. In the medium term, build renewable energy plants whenever we can, embrace microgeneration, and buy PHEVs from car manufacturers. Long term, silver bullet stuff like orbital mirrors and solar energy, fusion power, fancy nuclear power that doesn’t have as many downsides or negative stigma.

So let’s get down to it.

Industrial (33%) –

Industrial plants could make limited use of microgeneration and efficiency updates, and they could put better filters on their stacks to reduce emissions.

The biggest gains will be in Transportation, Residential, and Commercial:

Transportation (28%) –

61% Gasoline
21% Diesel
12% Aviation
6% Other

Gasoline could be majorly limited by switching over to PHEVs, which are extremely more efficient than ICE engines. In the near term, switching to diesel is more efficient, and with tailpipe filters also produces less particulates. PHEVs are Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. They aren’t purely electric, although they are electrically powered with batteries, and with a very small ICE on board to charge the battery, which then powers the cars, whereas Hybrids are still mechanically powered with a battery to power the car on a limited basis. Essentially with electric cars we are switching our energy needs away from gasoline and onto the power grid. But through microgeneration, we basically power our own cars, which takes the responsibility off the grid entirely. Eventually using all PHEVs will reduce the need for Diesel as well, when we get them working on the nation’s Semi trucks. Aviation is a bugger. GE is making more efficient engines, and with the debut of the Boeing Dreamliner, we see the most efficient plane yet in the air for it’s size. That will help reduce jet fuel consumption, but we’re still a long way off from making them better. In 2004 we consumed 3.3TW of energy. If we could even cut our energy need from Transportation in half, it would mean 460GW of power that doesn’t need to be produced anywhere else.

Residential (21%) –

33% Space Heating
13% Water Heating
12% Lighting
11% Air Conditioning
8% Refrigeration
5% Electronics
5% Wetcleaning (clothes dryers)

My goal would be to ENTIRELY eliminate our residential energy needs in the future. Homes are where we can make the biggest gains in microgeneration and efficiency. For space heating you could install solar heating or if you are building a new home you could build from better insulators like concrete or use better double paned windows, for water heating there’s solar water heaters, for lighting there’s CFLs, LEDs in the future which are even better, and that recently invented lighting devices that I posted about a couple weeks ago that are even more efficient than LEDs. For Air Conditioning and refrigeration there’s more efficient appliances. The DOE tells you what is best with the Energy Star symbol. Refrigerators of the future will also either have clear windows so you can see inside without having to open the door, and/or have tags so a computer in the refrigerator will not only tell you what’s inside without opening the door, but will also automatically create a shopping list for your trip to the store. Architectural solutions exist too, and new homes should all be built to a more efficient code, to include solar lighting, and better materials.

What you can’t reduce by using more efficient products, you can power your own house through microgeneration. The article I had the other day on mini-wind turbines are not ugly to put on your house, they don’t cost too much, and six or seven of them could power your whole house, and during night time offpeak hours they could charge your car. Out west, it might be more economical to install solar panels, where solar potential is much greater. If we eliminated our residential power need from the grid, it would save 690GW of energy.

Commercial (17%) –

25% Lighting
13% Heating
11% Cooling
6% Refrigeration
6% Ventilation
6% Electronics

Now efficiency is big here too. Lighting costs could be dramatically decreased by using better lighting (LEDs, or better). Using more efficient office products, and turning off laptops at the end of the day could also help. New office buildings like the new Bank of America building under construction in New York. It’s almost a test bed for what a Green skyscraper could be. They produce their own water, own energy, greatly advanced efficiency upgrades, and it only cost $3.5 million more for the already $1 billion construction cost. The builders expect to recoup the extra cost in only a few years, and after that it’s pure profit, and less pressure on the grid. Upgrading existing skyscrapers, and changing building codes for all future buildings could save us tons of watts to say nothing of tons of dollars. If we could cut half our energy costs from Commercial power, we’d save 280GW of power.

Between efficiency and microgeneration, we could eliminate 1.5TW of needed energy, almost half our total needs, and all through simple, often inexpensive changes. If we use 2004 numbers, 1.5TW of energy is almost half the 3.3TW of our total consumption. Then the question becomes, can we produce 1.5TW of energy through renewables? Yeah, we really can. Sometimes we’ll use small scale plants, just 10MW or 20MW here and there, and sometimes we’ll build giant 1GW plants for major electrical generation. Knowing that much of this will be for industrial, and since solar and wind are much, much more scalable than coal, gas, or nuclear, we could install plants MUCH closer to where they are actually needed, which will reduce transmission loss.

And the thing is, doing all of this will create millions of jobs, save billions of dollars, EARN billions of dollars, save the environment, make us energy independent, and probably happier, and safer if we aren’t depending on other countries for our power needs, to say nothing of greatly lowering the trade deficit, more than a third of which is for imported oil.

[ July 08, 2007, 09:35 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
And here's a little update for the day, in case you skip the editorial:

The 2008 Chevy Malibu Hybrid will debut at the MLB All Star game. It gets a combined 28MPG, and looks pretty sharp.

Interview with the guy who is suing Honda. If you read the comments section, the people mostly seem to rather vocally disagree with him, but when everyone says "you have to know that you aren't getting what they say you'll get" I think there is a disconnect. Why shouldn't we expect what is advertised? I won't pass judgement, but I plan to follow this one closely.


Ford and SoCal Edison have announced...that they are going to make an announcement! Soon! The announcement will be on Ford getting into the plug in hybrid field. Supposedly they will deal with SCE and will test their cars in southern California.

Suzlon wants to be producing 4.2GW of energy by January of 2008.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Thanks, Lyr. I've been really curious about that. Now to get Congress on board with incentives for the selfish types who won't do any of this stuff without prompting. [Smile]

Refrigerators of the future will also either have clear windows so you can see inside without having to open the door...
Best. Idea. Ever.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
They actually already sell refrigerators like that, though lately I've seen them replaced with LCD screens in the doors rather than windows. But I've seen wired houses demonstrated that combine RFID tags with scanners in the fridge to tell you when you are out of something you usually have. One step further, the fridge could actually order the food that you need, either from some place like Amazon Grocery, where it will be sent directly to you, or from the grocery store, so all you have to do is stop and pick up your assembled order. It's about connectivity and convenience as much as it is about saving energy by having you open the door less. I'd say we're a ways away from that, but Wi-Fi is so widespread now, that I imagine we aren't far away from having homes where all the electronics and appliances "chat" with each other and the outside world as a standard of living.

Incentives from Congress aren't totally necessary, but they are extremely helpful. Sad to say, the majority of the public just doesn't know what is good for them. If one average homeowner bought a PHEV, made their home as efficient as possible, and powered it all via microgeneration, they would never have an energy bill again, would make money via energy sold back to the grid, and would almost eliminate their gasoline costs for the year. These things pay for themselves, the environmental benefits don't cost anything, they're almost a free side effect of efficiency. Granted many of these upgrades really aren't available to the poor, and that is where I'd like to see the government help out, but not with handouts, only as a facilitator to make a revenue neutral switch to Greener habits for those who can't front the money for it.

Incentives help large scale renewable plants stay cost competitive. After awhile they won't need the incentives because prices will come down. Wind is cheaper than it used to be, a lot cheaper, and solar is headed for a 30% reduction in the price of PVCs. They only need that kind of help until production ramps up. Government however can help in a LOT of different ways. Say tomorrow the government mandated that ALL government vehicles purchased had to be PHEVs. That would be automatic sales in the millions for those cars, and companies like GM and Ford would be able to to full scale production, which would bring down the price for the average consumer.

It's the kind of thing that helped get the airlines started, among many other industries. I think if government does little or nothing to help, the free market will take care of a lot of this by itself, but it will happen much slower. The sad thing is that many in Congress, and especially the White House, are illogically denying the Green business sector. They keep falsely claiming that Green moves will cost us money, when we know from experience and from what experts are telling us that the opposite is true, the Green movement will create jobs and money, and will save many companies money as well when they go Green.

I think we're going to see a lot of really good things in the Energy Bill currently in Congress, assuming Bush doesn't veto it. A lot of helpful pro-renewable incentives and tax breaks are in the bill currently. But I also think that if we get a Democrat elected in 2008, that will go a long way towards bridging the gap. Bush is just too entrenched in 20th century old world thinking, and I think his ties to old world fossil fuel power is part of the problem. Companies like Exxon and BP won't die when we switch to renewables, they will adapt, and become renewable providers themselves. The only ones who will really get hurt by this are foreign oil exporters, and I won't shed a tear for the Saudis, who will go right on selling their oil to China and India. The other probable sufferer is the coal industry, and I'm sorry to say that a slow death or coma for them won't be bad for the country. New jobs will replace theirs, and we'll all be better of for it.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:

Interview with the guy who is suing Honda. If you read the comments section, the people mostly seem to rather vocally disagree with him, but when everyone says "you have to know that you aren't getting what they say you'll get" I think there is a disconnect. Why shouldn't we expect what is advertised? I won't pass judgement, but I plan to follow this one closely.

As a friend of mine (who doesn't own a hybrid) mentioned last night, it's been a poorly kept secret that the EPA figures are always off. Most people know this already, and claiming ignorance of this seems naive.

Also, in my investigation of hybrids when I was buying, the Honda web site always gave me the impression that the mileage was going to depend on how I drove it.

I mean, seriously, if you are a lead foot you aren't going to hit ANY EPA estimates, for hybrid or non-hybrid cars. And unless he can prove an actual vehicle fault, his really low mileage seems to be PEBSWAC (problem exists between steering wheel and chair).

For the record, At 86 miles on my most recent tank, and driving mostly on the highway, I am at 45.7 MPG... My car is rated 48MPG. Does it it help that I was running between 55-60 most of the way (due to congestion)? Absolutely, but that'd be the same in anyone's non-hybrid car.

Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
After reading the article, I'm still not all that sympathetic to the guy. Basically he wants the mileage rating to be accurate for everyone, everywhere, regardless of driving conditions (see his last bit telling them to test the car on the freeways).

I'm guessing that he hardly engages autostop since he has air conditioning all the time (which I've found doe not drastically affect the mileage in my case), and that while "not speeding" he's doing 80+ on highways with a bunch of heavy audio equipment in the car.

Posted by pH (Member # 1350) on :
Random question: Do those energy saver lightbulbs that last three years also generate less heat?

Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Don't forget trains. If we stopped government subsidies of highway construction and nationalized the railway system, we could eliminate a lot of the inefficiency inherent in shipping by truck.

It would also tend to concentrate development near railroad tracks, which would make mass transit far more feasible for people, and cut down on sprawl.

Trains are WAY more efficient than cars and trucks.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Yeah, I meant to mention rail. We need a major upgrade to our rail system, and I'd love to see high speed rail lines added for mass transit. It can be cost competitive, environmentally friendly, and just as quick as air transport over short distances, and might save people from making some long commutes in cars. In a couple decades, I think we should get mag-lev trains going as well. We have a lot of ground to cover in this country, and mag-levs are a great environmentally friendly way to move people from place to place. Plus, our nation's skyways are going to become unbelievably clogged, which will increase airport delays by HOURS on a regular basis. It might end up being necessary to diversify our travel options beyond flight, and I think we should get that done BEFORE we're forced to.

Pearce -

CFLs produce less heat, use less energy, and last longer, LEDs use less heat and less energy than CFLs, and also have less harmful chemicals, the newest invention, I can't remember the name, is 50% efficient (compared with 1% for incandescents), has no harmful chemicals, and lasts 20 years or more and generates more heat. We're still a few years away from LEDs being used in the homes, and probably a decade until the newest bulbs are mass produced and sold, but it's all in the pipeline.
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
Trains are WAY more efficient than cars and trucks.
I agree. But something doesn't add up here, from my point of view. Even though I agree with you, here's what I've noticed. In Kansas, railroad companies are ripping out the track and abandoning rail lines. I've seen at least two stretches of rail line fall victim to this, just in my area of northern Kansas. Most notably, the Central Branch of the Missouri-Pacific (MoPac) line, which connected dozens of small towns and their grain elevators.

Because of this, more towns are relying on trucks to move grain to and from elevators. It's sad and aggravating to watch this infrastructure decay to the point of abandonement or merely be sold for scrap. The increase in grain truck traffic on the highways is noticeable. Those heavy trucks are responsible for quite a bit of wear (and thus, higher costs for maintenance) on our highways. If rail is so much more efficient than trucks, then why are companies refusing to move grain cargo via rail?

I'm mystified by this. I agree with you, and I now the numbers show that rail is extremely cheap. What the heck is going on here?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Cheaper to ship by rail, but the rail infrastructure is 50+ years old, and government is not at all interested in updating it, as it would cost billions. No one asks Ford and GM to pay for the roads all by themselves, why should Amtrak and Union Pacific pay for the rail lines?

Basically, cheaper as it may be, having to foot the bill for the entire infrastructure just doesn't make sense.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :,1518,485757,00.html
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Big update for today, so most of it will come in link form.

First up is a pretty funny Canadian commericial for renewable energy. I won't spoil it, just watch it.

You've probably seen news about this, the biggest solar farm being planned for California, but it has a lot of kinks in it. I don't know how feasible this is yet, I don't think we're that far away from high production 100's or even 1,000s of watts of solar power farms, but the guys planning this have almost nothing in place. I have more hopes for the sterling plants being tested right now, but we'll see.

One Australian scientist has a rather odd suggestion for solving south Australia's drought problem: send them water in giant "bladders" from the north.

A little bit more on the Geothermal debate. 100GW is not the most that we could produce in the US, it is what they believe we could achieve in the next couple decades, and what they think we need to achieve to prove it a viable replacement to fossil fuels.

Special Report Section: Bottled Water is Evil!

You all know how much I hate bottled water, and this is one more reason why. ICE CUBES IN A BOX! Click the link, I just can't say anymore about it.

And here is yet another link about water safety and why your bottled water is ridiculous. It's more expensive than a gallon of gas (almost by a factor of 10), is unfriendly to the environment, and it isn't even better than tap water!

[/bottled water rant]

Resort in Alaska shows how microgeneration and ingenuity is going to be a standard over localized power production in the future.

GM has announced that they might eat some of the cost for the new two-mode hybrids of the Tahoe and Yukon. Unlike the VUE and Aura hybrids, these are much more complicated, and thus much more complicated. They could add as much as $10K to the price of the vehicle, and even with all that effort, you don't get dramatic savings (but hey, you still get the best fuel economy for an SUV that size without a loss in power or safety). If someone drives a 15mpg behemoth and drives an average 15,000 miles a year, they use 1,000 gallons of gas. A 25% savings, which a two mode hybrid would offer them, means using 250 gallons of gas less a year, at $3 a gallon, that means a savings of $750 a year in fuel costs. They'd have to drive the thing more than a decade to realize their investment back. Still, it's a FULL SIZED SUV that suffers no loss in performance, and frankly I think it even looks sharper than the regular version of the thing. If GM does decide to eat some of the cost of the hybrid, I think they have a real winner, especially if drivers see their gas bill fall 25%, and if gas prices stay where they are or go even higher.

According to a recent poll, 70% of Americans support a measure that would force auto companies to increase their fleetwide fuel economy standards. But not part of that poll was the more important question "are you willing to pay more for those cars?"

Frankly I'm starting to be pulled more to the side of automakers when it comes to this issue. The government is forcing a few billion dollars in costs on them, which isn't chump change. And as a result, if gas prices were to bottom out in five years, they'd be stuck with a bunch of cars that no one really wants to buy if gas is so cheap. Many of them are going in the right direction without Congressional oversight, like GM with the Volt, but I'm starting to wonder if Congress is a bit out of touch with the difference between what the American consumer SAYS he wants and then what he actually buys, like when polling data shows a bajillion people watch PBS, but in reality their ratings don't come close to matching it.

I think they would get a LOT further by offering tax incentives and breaks to those who buy the most fuel efficient cars (ahem, PHEVs), mandated that the government buy those cars for their own fleets, and offer some backing to US automakers to make some of these changes. The reason cars today don't get the better fuel economy than cars in the 1970's is because of all the fancy toys we like. Cars back then didn't have all the electronics or safety features we have now. Detroit has pioneered advances in lighter materials, better engines, all things that help fuel economy, but are you willing to give up your air conditioning? Radio? Cd player? air bags? or a dozen other things? Those are the things that drag down efficiency. Do I think CAFE standards should be raised? Yes. Do I think throwing Detroit into a sink or swim situation is the right thing to do? Absolutely not. There should be a happy medium.

Office Depot will be the first major office supply chain to sell Forest Stewardship Council approved paper in their stores. The FSC sets strict standards on companies making this paper, making sure they use forest safe practices and take care of their workers. In other words, if you buy their paper, you can be reasonably sure that they don't stip mine forests for the stuff.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada has announced another $48 million in funding for research projects, after a recently announced $101 million. This money will go to help companies working on green technologies. This link is to a list of the winners, which includes a description of their projects.

Here's an article that deals with Carbon sequestration, and a potential huge project being looked at for Lake Erie. It's potentially extremely expensive, with an unknown number of risks, but it could be part of the short term solution. I think we need a lot more study before we try it on this large a scale.

Okay, four featured articles today, with varying degrees of cool factor and importance:

[ July 10, 2007, 02:12 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Decided to give the four featured articles their own post.

Sony will soon start selling OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) flat panel displays. They use 40% less energy than energy guzzling LCDs, and can be twice as thin. They cost 1.7 times more to make, but cost should come down as production increases.

The next two are great examples of Green architecture.

This one is really cool, it's the Sidwell School in Washington DC. It uses 70% less energy and 60% less water than a comparable building. It features much of what I've talked about, light sensors that turn off lights when people aren't in rooms or when solar lighting is sufficient, water recycling plants, vegetation on the roof, and solar panels. Check the link out for a few more details and some cool pictures. It's also made almost entirely from recycled or reclaimed materials.

On the other side of Green architecture we have this planned sci-fi ish hotel. It's being built into an abandoned quarry, which means turning a dead area of the environment into something usable, rather than destroying another habitat. It has a mix of underwater hotel rooms and indoor waterfalls, which look pretty sweet if you ask me. It also plans to provide most or all of its power from geothermal heat, since it is dug so deep into the ground, and will reclaim the area around it (make it environmentally friendly and viable again). There's pictures of what they plan it to look like at the link.

Okay that brings us to the big Ford announcement. This is a follow up to what I said the other day about a PHEV announcement. They're going to test a small fleet (20 cars) of PHEVed Ford Hybrid Escapes over the next two years. Not exactly stunning news. GM plans to have their PHEV, the Volt in production by that time, and they have 1,000 hydrogen cars on the roads at the moment, so I'm not exactly spinning cartwheels over this announcement.

Plus their PHEVs won't be pure PHEVs like the Volt, but converted to add battery packs. I mean hey, it's a stepping stone, but it could have been better. You can read the whole article here. It has some interesting stuff on what they plan to gain out of the tests with SCE. It's more than just testing the cars, they are testing the lifestyle. What could we really get out of having PHEVs in America? A lot apparently.


Now I know I said there were only four updates, but I found a gem of a piece of information hidden in one of the other sources:

This is a 39 page document that I'm still reading, but the gist is that if tomorrow the ENTIRE US fleet of cars changed over to PHEVs, the electrical grid could power more then 70% of them with NO added need for generation.

Like I've said recently, our grid is greatly underutilized at night. One of the big criticisms that electric cars get (one that Tatiana leveled earlier in this thread) is that you aren't really solving the problem when you run cars on gas, you just make it so we have to produce the power with more power generating stations. But this report shows that if all cars were PHEVs, we'd only need to supply an extra 27% power, and it would fully cut our use of oil imports per day by 52%.

The uses become even more marked when you include the use of PHEVs in microgeneration, or storing power used at night and using it during the day, and while that might hurt the uses for the batteries in the cars, it might create a huge market for used PHEV batteries. Those batteries could be bought for home use, I think especially with wind power, and could make sure both renewables produce perpetual energy, and that PHEVs are much cheaper.

I'll do an additional post to report the findings from the report in case y'all don't want to read the 39 pages.

Edit to add: I finished reading it (no it didn't take me several hours, I stopped read it to work on other things) just a moment ago, and there are a lot of very exciting findings! I'll detail them for you tomorrow, but the gist is that not only will this mean big savings for consumers, it could mean big savings for big utility companies as well, all while reducing overall US emissions of greenhouse gases, in some cases dramatically (with the exception of SOX, but I'll get to that later). Anyway, exciting news!

[ July 10, 2007, 05:46 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Sorry I haven't gotten the summary of that article to you guys yet, I'll get to it when I get home from work tonight. It really was an extremely good report, I had to read it a couple times to understand all the technical aspects of it, and I'm not entirely sure I still understand it all. If fugu is reading this thread and happens to read the article, and notices anything wrong with my summary, I'd welcome corrections, but I think I understood the main points.

Anywho, here's an update for today:

Mayor Bloomberg proposes banning traffic in Times Square to ease congestion, and charging big bucks to drive in Manhattan. Echoes measures taken in London already, which has increased revenue and decreased traffic.

Interesting work being done by Ford:

Ford is pioneering advances in making many now petroleum based car parts out of plants instead.

80 years ago or so, when plastics and other similar materials were first being developed there was a debate over whether or not they would be plant based or petroleum based. But oil was so ridiculously plentiful and cheap at the time that it sort of seemed a no brainer.

But that isn't the cast anymore. Ford is pioneering advances in using soy, hemp and other materials to manufacture plastics, resins, foam and polyester, among other materials to make them both more environmentally friendly, cheaper, reduce dependence on oil, and will also make the materials lighter and less hazardous to produce. Check out the article, it's really interesting stuff that Ford is working on that could become a new industry standard in the near future if they can get production on track.

In related news, Ford's CEO says that Ford PHEVs are 5-10 years away. Now you might think that makes their big announcement the other day a pretty moot point. But it's not. Part of what Ford is really testing is the lifestyle and the side business of PHEVs. Getting the cars on the road is one thing, but what other uses will they have? Perhaps as grid stablizing secondary power? Perhaps a big market for used batteries like PG&E wants? Perhaps a mixture of the two and more things that we've never considered? They are as much testing what other uses PHEVs could have as they are testing the actual cars themselves, which is good, and I'm sure GM will appreciate the feedback when they are the first to produce a wide production electric car in a few years.

In totally unrelated to anything having to do with Green energy news, the UAW has agreed to take over a major portion of healthcare costs from the automakers. Currently US automakers have to add $3,500 on average to the prices of their cars because of health care costs and other costs that foreign automakers don't have to pay in the US. This deal should reduce the cost of American cars by almost a thousand dollars on average, but I doubt you'll notice the difference.

Remember me talking about carbon sequestration via algae farms? Well here's a more recent article on it. They've run into some problems, but hope to have it back on track better than ever soon. It takes up a lot of space, but out west they have the space to burn, I still think this is a viable small scale solution.

Userful, an industry leader in public computing has created a program and hardware fix that could save tons of energy and money for companies.

The gist of the idea is that offices spend thousands of dollars on computers, and then thousands more powering them for dozens of office workers who only really use them for clerical work and other simple functions. But these computers are powerhouses, and have tons of computational power (as well as using tons of power). The solution is to turn one computer into ten. Instead of 10 separate computers barely using their potential, max out one computer with 10 workstations. We'd save by having to produce less computers, less energy, and the company will save money. Great idea.

GM has confirmed that they plan to lose money on their upcoming SUV hybrids, the Yukon and Tahoe. Much like when video game companies sell their systems at a loss, GM plans to sell these cars deeply discounted so people will get them on the roads, which should lead to increased production, lower prices and eventual profit. It's a huge risk for GM. They're putting a LOT of their future stake in hybrids, and they are betting heavily on hybrids being big business for the forseeable future, but they don't want to sacrifice what Americans traditionally want: size and power. Now if only Congress would back them up with some fuel taxes and an oil minimum price fix...

Why are we making the car companies do all the work?

So we know that we have a problem. Oil is a finite resource getting more finite every day. Don't come at me with the "peak oil" thing. Fact of the matter is all the cheap easy to get to oil is gone. The giant oil fields that have been our bread and butter for the last couple decades are starting to dry up, which means we have to get more and more oil from extremely dirty sources like tar sands or shale, or we have to spend billions to dig deep into ocean bedrock, which skyrockets the price of oil.

And so what is our solution? Mainly it's been an assault on automakers. Why haven't they increased efficiency? We bemoan. Why do they keep making all those gas guzzling behemoth SUVs? We accuse. But the fact of the matter is that the automakers aren't the problem. We are. When you add the cheapest gas in the world to cars with increasingly better performance, you get the biggest consumption of fuel in the world. I've said it before, but when you compare a car built in the 70's to today, it's true that they really don't get much better fuel economy now than then, but that's because the car companies have been forced to add thousands of pounds of safety and entertainment equipment to the cars that kills MPG, all while making them more efficient than ever. It breaks even.

CAFE standards were introduced in the wake of the oil crisis of the 70's, and it worked. Cars became much more efficient. But now 30 years later we're looking into the face of another crunch, so the first people we blame is...the car companies? No, the problem isn't them, the problem is us.

From 1990 to 2004, the growth in America's demand for gasoline proceeded at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, the report says. But it fell to an annual growth rate of 0.3 percent when gasoline prices spiked above $3 per gallon in 1975 and grew slowly to 1 percent in 2006 when gasoline prices began to fall.
The reason automakers make gas guzzling behemoths is because we want them. The reason they don't build gas sipping compacts is because we don't buy them. It's supply and demand. We keep telling them we want one thing and then we go and buy something totally different. We say we want to use less gas, but we don't really much care how much gas we use, we just want to get from point A to point B and spend the same amount all the time to do so. If that means better fuel economy or cheaper gas, whatever, it's what we'll do, and we'll always pick the cheaper of the two option.

Fuel consumption is going to skyrocket worldwide, as fuel supply is going to start tapering off due to both a lack of investment in discovery, unrest in some unstable nations, and wells losing productivity. And instead of attacking car companies we should be asking why Congress is doing nothing to curtail the driving habits of the people instead of forcing industry to make all the compromises. I think it's high time Congress put a permanant fixture on the price of oil. Oil can never go below say $55 a barrel, and anything less than that they take for tax money and put towards energy saving solutions. Furthermore, they should immediately raise the gas tax. I know that's political suicide to suggest, but I am sick of politician's telling us all the easy solutions that only last a decade until we get the heavy end of the hammer dropped on us. Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I know we're worried about how this will effect the poor, and I am too. Some of the money collected could go towards rebate checks to the poor for gas. Any person under a certain income level with a vehicle registration get a cetain monthly allowance or some such. I think it'd cost less than most would assume.

But it's time to stop looking at the corporate side of this mess and start looking at what the people themselves are doing to solve the problem. Right now Congress isn't asking us to do or spend any more on a more and more finite resource, they just tell us to happily go about our business, and it's time for them to stop babying us.

[/rant, sermon, editorial]

Still almost another dozen articles, so you get them in short, SHORT form:

Case for free public transportation

Congress looks to the future of US energy use

US vs. The World: Daily Fuel consumption

The Sun is not responsible for climate change

Wind up LED lantern a Green boon to campers

Another demon prepackaged water product

Ashland, Oregon to sell solar power shares to citizens.

I liked this one, why isn't the war on waste and climate change similar to WWII efforts? We planted victory gardens, we recycled tires and cooking grease. Why isn't more being asked of us?

[ July 11, 2007, 04:12 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I have a bunch of links and at the end I have part one of my cliffs notes version of the PHEV report I spoke about a couple posts ago. Part one is about the feasibility and implementation of PHEVs, their market penetration. Part II has to do with the money and economics of the situation.

Big increase in solar power installations

Naples buried in trash

US and EU increase Energy Star standards, EU makes it mandatory for all public purchases to be Energy Star or better.

Diesel in America? Not anytime soon.

Increased CAFE standards means more jobs

Ford to introduce soy foam on Mustang, oil based products on the way out?

Ford's green plant is not only enviro friendly, it's also saving Ford a bundle of money.

Toronto switching to LEDs and solar

Only 12% of US homes are as efficient as they could be

More evidence of unsafe Chinese products, but with a twist, we aren't blameless

Another company goes carbon neutral and installs solar panels on their home building

Better than ethanol? Micanthus has high yield per acre, and is very low maintenance. Could save the bio-fuel industry.

Florida adopts California emissions standards, more than half the nation on board now.

Three articles to focus on

Surgeon General gagged by the President, not representing the best interests of the people's health

The true cost of Solar power, it's not as expensive as you think.

PHEV tax break might make a comeback after being killed from the FREEDOM Act

Edit to add: Fell asleep last night before I could post the notes, so I'll do that now, and I have one more minor link, then I won't be posting for the next three days or so, as I'm going camping. Getting back to the nature I champion [Smile]

More outcry over the harm of corn based ethanol.

[ July 14, 2007, 11:58 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Some of this might be a little disjointed, but you’ll get the idea when you read the whole thing. The report is based on 2002 numbers.

84% of cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs could be powered with current capacity and infrastructure.
73% of America’s Light Duty Vehicle (LDV) fleet could be powered, which is the above plus vans.

This would displace 6.5 million gallons of oil per day in imports, which is 52% of our daily imports of oil. There’s a breakdown on our daily imports and what they are used for in industry on page 13 of the report. That’s the summary. The majority of the report is the meat of the study that was done to figure out exactly how those numbers were created.

The grid operates at full capacity for only 5% of the year. All estimates in this report are for current Transmission & Distribution capabilities (T&D). Charging is based on 33 miles on only electric power, and for recharging during offpeak hours, though there are breakdowns later on what happens to capacity when you limit or expand charging hours. This is a worst case scenario report, in that it assumes lowest capacity, the lowest T&D capacity, and the lowest free amount of energy, and yet it still would power about two thirds of the LDV fleet with no added production. I think it’s a soft number, but I doubt we’re any closer than 30 years away from anywhere near that sort of PHEV penetration, and during that time there will be plenty of time and money to add more T&D capacity, as well as more generation capacity.

Estimating spare energy is based on a “valley filling” approach. It also takes into account inter-regional power transfers to supplement native generation. Emissions, as well as oil savings, are considered from the “well to wheel” process, in other words, all the emissions that are emitted to get the oil into your tank, from the time it leaves the oil well in Saudi Arabia (or wherever) to the refining process, to getting into your tank and then burned back out into the air.

Energy is divided into 12 national regions, but it’s more complicated now, the Energy Act of 2005 complicated the issue and switched those 12 regions all around, but this study deals with pre-2005 format, simply because its easier, but that won’t change anything real that’s on the ground. The study focuses on the LDV fleet, 217 million vehicles. Also based on the average American driving 28 miles per day. 50% of all cars drive 20 miles or less a day, 70% drive 33 or less. The excess is largely from people going on long trips, averaged into people with their short commutes or 40 miles or less.

How is excess load determined?

It’s based on two hypothetical days, one in the Summer and one in the Winter. They choose these two days of the year and they assumed the least possible amount of excess. It’s an extremely conservative estimate, and it also takes into account outages and maintenance problems, which would be heavily increased by a 100% run time of the plants, rather than peaks and valleys running that now happens.

There’s a figure on the top of page 8. Figures do not include peaking plants, which exist only to come online during periods of very high use, generally from 3:30 to 5:30pm or so, but these don’t operate as much in the Spring and Fall when load is much less, this is also typically when maintenance is done. When you compare load use on these two hypothetical days to total installed capacity, you get the excess that could be used on PHEVs. They realize that on some days the power won’t be enough, but gas can supplement it. This guarantees that you’ll never be without a means to power your car, and that the national energy grid will never be overtaxed for producing power for homes and offices.

The middle of page nine has a breakdown of kWh per mile for different vehicle classifications. They also assume an 8% loss of energy in T&D. This number will be higher when energy is transferred between regions, and it will be less, or non-existant as renewable energy sources bring power closer to your home, or if you power your own. In other words, they look at energy for powering PHEVs the same “well to wheel” way they look at oil use. If you restrict the use of power for PHEVs from 6pm to 6am, the capacity of the system for LDVs to 39%. While most of the recharging very well should be done at night, where most of the power is, the valley filling method includes power all throughout the day.

There would be even more capacity with T&D upgrades. The ERCOT region (Texas basically) has 136% of their electrical power, which means they have some to give away, but their T&D capacity does not allow for any transfer, thus their bonus 36% is lost, and they can merely power themselves. Upgrades would mean their native power companies could sell the excess load to neighboring regions, like the AZN&RMP region (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and bits and pieces of others), which can only meet 66% of their PHEV needs under optimal conditions. The money they would get from selling the energy would more than make up for the cost of the upgrades. This percentage is an estimate based on a 24 powering period, and the excess ERCOT generating capacity would power another 5.58 million PHEVs.

Emissions Details

There is a mix of good and bad news here.

Overall there is a drop if 27% nationally in greenhouse gases. Regionally it depends on the makeup of power generation. Texas could see an overall 40% drop, because they have a lot of natural gas power generation, which is far less polluting than coal. The MAPP region (draw a vertical line from North Dakota to Oklahoma, it’s all those states basically) might see a slight rise in emissions due to 98% coal powered plants.

Total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) will improve drastically by 93%, and total Carbon Monoxide emissions would drop by 98%, though these are both based on how often the internal combustion in the PHEV is used. Nitrogen Oxide is reduced by 31%, because of ICE and refinery reductions.
PM10 particulate emissions would rise nationally by 18%, but confined to power stations it is away from people. The health effects are reduced, and filtering is much easier as the generation goes from 217 million tailpipes to a few hundred smokestacks. Sulfer Oxide (SOX) would rise nationally by 125%, though urban emissions still improve. Given increased filtering methods, some of which I have talked about recently, I think the effects would be greatly reduced, but that would involve upgrades, which aren’t discussed in this report.

Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil

LDV fleet uses 97% of the 9.1 million bbpd we use for gas. We import 12.5 million for various uses total. Converting 73% of the LDV fleet means 6.5 million less, or a 52% reduction of imports. Converting 100% of the LDV fleet means 9.1 million less, but this also depends on how much 33+ miles per day driving we do.


Converting 73% of our fleet would mean adding 910 billion kWh of generation, which is within our current capacity. It’s a 24% increase over 2002 generation. This study doesn’t examine V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology that PG&E and others are working on, but it could seriously help mitigate shortages during peak hours. It means working on smart charging so cars can know when not to take energy from the grid, or even give power back to the grid to not only help peak hours, but to keep heavily polluting peaking plants from having to turn on at all. We would also have to adopt pricing changes to make night time charging more attractive. If we all charged at 4pm, this won’t be feasible at all. We’d also go from a system of peaks and valleys to one of constant loading, which will require more maintenance, but the power companies will certainly be able to afford it, which I will cover next time.

Next time I’ll cover Part II, which talks about how much money this would mean for power companies, and how much a PHEV would likely cost and save a PHEV owner over the life of the car. This will probably be on Wednesday when I come back from vacation, along with what I imagine will be a very big update. See you all in four days.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Okay I'm back, with all too much sun, from my vacation. It was quite nice actually, maybe I'll post some pictures of my fun in the sun if I get a chance.

I've decided not to do a summary of the second half of the report, you really need to read it to get the specifics of how they come up with their conclusions, but the basics are that given best and worst case scenarios for power companies, running at full load all the time would mean greater profits for them, and probably lower energy prices for us, taking into account more maintenance, more fuel, and other problems. It would also mean, depending on the price of gas, that consumers could afford to spend between one and six or seven thousand dollars more on a PHEV over a regular car of the same kind and still expect to recoup their investment over a 10 year life of the car. But that depends largely on what they are already driving and what the price of gas is. Read the report for more specifics.

Other news:

Walmart wants to cut their truck use of fuel by 25% by the end of the decade. They are working with trailer manufacturers to make them more aerodynamic and with cab makers to explore diesel electric hybrids. It won't just green their image either, it'll save millions of dollars in fuel costs every year. It's tall order to attempt to accomplish in the next two and a half years.

New York state has shelved Mayor Bloomberg's plan to ease congestion in NYC. The votes weren't there, so NYC will stay the way it is. Frankly I don't see why this isn't purely a city matter.

South Carolina has their first PHEVs, converted Priuses with a target of 100mpg. They'll be tested by power companies there for the next few months.

Diesel, despite what some domestic higher ups are saying, is gaining popularity in America. JD Powers reports that Americans are willing to be a premium of about $2,300 more for an Hybrid, but they expect ridiculous increses in fuel economy, something in the neighborhood of 20mpg, whereas they are willing to pay $1,500 for a diesel, and expect 15mpg more, which might actually be achievable. But it remains to be seen if diesels can be made cost effectively to match the new ultra tough standards the US has set for diesels. America's Big Three actually sells millions of diesels in Europe, but American standards for diesel are 10 times stricter, and about to get worse.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has announced that they have a viable nano-tube printable solar power technique perfected. These are cells that could be painted on, or printed on a sheet of paper, virtually placed anywhere. They work so well because nano-tubes are much better conductors than copper, but I have my doubts on how commercially ready this is. It's been a holy grail of sorts for more than a decade, but if what they have really works, then it's a big step in both the versatility and the cost competitiveness of solar.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released a report urging Congress to adopt the more stringent measures from both the House and Senate energy bills. They say the measures, with everything from CAFE updates to updating building codes for more efficient lightbulbs could save government and businesses $1.3 trillion in energy costs between now and 2030.

A little more solar news, Sterling dishes are in trouble out west. Plans to build almost a GW in solar power in the desert might be scuttled because of an expensive and environmentally damagaging transmission line that would have to be built. The irony is that Environmentalists are trying to stop construction of a solar power plant. They might have to build it elsewhere, or figure out a better solution to the T&D problem.


Other news in Solar power inventions and innovations. UC and a Korean firm have announced they've perfect a new kind of plastic solar panel that will be cheaper to produce and with greater efficiency. New cells will hopefully cost 10 cents per watt when they are made commercially available, again hopefully by 2012, and they will also produce 15% efficiency, almost twice the standard now considered for commercial viability.


Have an old cell phone lying around? Check out Cellforcash, they'll buy your old cell phone off you if it isn't too out of date, and if it is, they'll recycle it for you anyways.


NASA is working on ways to build nanobatteries to power nanosized devices, which until now have been powered by much, much larger power sources.

I saved this article for last because frankly it just pissed me off the most. Read on for some details, but basically BP is being allowed to pour a lot more toxic sludge into Lake Michigan. Someone is going to hear from me on this, and they're going to get an earful. I swim in that lake several times a year, even if it is on the other side of the state from me, and I love it. It's one of the most beautiful, pristine places I've ever been (Michigan's West Coast, the parts that haven't been developed). Time to fire up the email.

[ July 19, 2007, 03:29 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Report from the European Renewable Energy Council is a serious look at the hundreds of billions of dollars that could be saved if we started investing more heavily in renewables. It also gives a glimpse into the future of electrical generation. Renewables in the next 40 years will produce much more than half our needs.

A glimpse into the future of housing? This apartment complex in California powers itself.

Following the theme here, this report from home builders gives all the options and ways that home builders and commercial builders can use renewables and efficiency to build and power their buildings. It details all the available technologies, how they work, how they are installed, what is best for what home, and the costs and savings involved. It's a great guide (though lengthy) for anyone looking to build a renewable powered home or add upgrades.

Want an idea on what such a renewable home might look and feel like? Here is a zero footprint home, or close to it. Solar panels, solar lighting, solar heating and other advances give this home a near zero footprint, and better, a zero operating cost. The link includes a video tour of the house.

BP announces they will expand production in Massachusetts of their solar power production lines (factories that make solar panels and similar products), the new facility is planned to be ultra green itself, with a green roof and PVCs.

Now on a non-solar bent...

New method of cooling may mean big savings for big cities.

Upgrades in Altamont Pass will reduce deaths to birds. Newer wind powered technologies are much safer to birds, and have a lot more options.

HP has recycled its billionth pound of paper.

Richard Branson makes a move towards Butanol. Sounds like great news.

New report has a lot of great things to say about PHEVs.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Mini-update tonight. You might not see one tomorrow because I'm avoiding everything media related, including all internet, until I finish Deathly Hallows. I'm afraid to even go into work tomorrow.

Cheap and easy to install system can recycle grey water in your home and save water, and save you money.

Chevron to build wave farm in California, taking advantage of new laws against importing polluting energy and investing in new technology.

Dell boosts electronics recycling by 93%.

The Solar Decathlon is upon us! Here's a sneap peak at a contestent.

Another look at the potential risks from wind power.

Pollution in China: Pictures say a thousand words
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Mini update for the 22nd. I've left out some stuff, but I didn't have the time to do the usual search I do, too exhausted from all the Harry Potter reading.

Bush walls off access to EPA library

Green tires from Goodyear save thousands of gallons of gas for truckers.

Might have already linked to this one, but here's a PHEV study on air quality and the environmental effects of PHEVs.

An extreme take on wind power, someone wants to build manmade tornado powered wind plants, and they'd be cheaper than coal fired plants.

More arguments for peak oil

Mass. based Mascoma to build Cellulosic ethanol plant right here in Michigan.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Woulda been better off going straight to butanol production, then using the 10% glycerine waste as feedstock for ethanol.

After the InternationalEnergyAgency admitted that the peak oil crunch will hit by 2012 -- ie demand will increase much faster than supply -- Exxon's former chairman, now president of the NationalPetroleumCouncil has recently admitted that the oil prices will continue to rise rapidly in the future, and that massive conservation efforts through efficiency gains is the only way to moderate the economic crunch soon due.

Bush already walled off access to the Bureau of Land Management. Can't even find out which public lands he's selling/leasing off to his worse-than-worthless friends until after somebody accidently stumbles over development on that land.
And nope, no help from the EnvironmentalProtectionAgency. Dubya issued an ExecutiveOrder forbidding the EPA from starting any environmental studies on the effects of development on BLM property until after it's leased or sold, AND after being ordered to do so by the courts after a successful lawsuit filed by environmental advocates; which naturally can occur only after somebody accidentally stumbles across development on that (sometimes formerly) BLM-managed public land and reports it to the public.

Don't need to see pictures of China to see China's pollution; all ya hafta do is look at air on the US WestCoast.
"On some days, almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia. With it comes up to three-quarters of the black carbon particulate pollution..." as well as a highly significant portion of the nitrate and sulphate pollution.
Most of it's ours anyways. We just shipped off the manufacturing pollution to import goods that used to be made by US workers.

[ July 23, 2007, 06:44 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
For all the benefits of biobutanol, I don't think the technology to create it on a commercial scale is really financially feasible yet. Though if it had the same subsidies that ethanol has...maybe. I think it has a few years before it comes into its own. Cellulosic ethanol, better than corn based, is only just now getting ramped up, with two facilities planned, one in Michigan and one in Georgia, as it too has production related kinks to work out.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
This could be the last update before I leave for vacation. Sorry that I haven't been up to snuff on these lately, I've been trying to finish up last minute things for my vacation and that, combined with a hectic work schedule has played havoc with my free time. So here you go:

Bank of America gets into solar. They financing the purchasing and installation of solar panels for the roofs of buildings, then they sell the energy to the building at a much reduced rate, and everyone profits. I might have posted something like this already.

PG&E signs onto biggest solar project in the world in the desert using solar trough designs.

Ted Danson becomes defender of the Seas.

Britain plans to build five carbon neutral towns.

Can the US power grid stand up to widespread EV use? Maybe it'll even be a solution rather than a hurt.

Maryland aims to be first state with "smart grid" up and running for power consumers.

Altairnano, battery supplier for Phoenix Motors is moving into the home battery business. The idea has been around for awhile, batteries in your home collect renewable power during the day or night and discharge it when needed. Until now such system have been prohibatively expensive, but all that might change soon.

featured article

Carbon sequestration in algae gets an innovative jolt. It just might be economically feasible afterall.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
On a down note, Florida's pessimistic about all this green stuff. Link

When it comes to harnessing the sun or wind for powering homes and offices, Florida is no California. But it does have lots of crops.
We have a better chance of having electricity beamed down from the Starship Enterprise than from some of the technologies we see today.
So how bout it, Lyr. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot if we go with waste biomass plants? Or are those ok, too?

I just can't believe leaders in the Sunshine State are leery of solar power. How could it hurt?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
The West has a lot of natural advantages when it comes to a lot of these technologies. They have deserts which are giant solar panel stations waiting to happen, they have rolling hills and valleys where wind power is best suited, and have a large portion of our easily accessible geothermal reserves.

Florida's problem is a lot of urbanization. While Florida would be a great place (hell it's the Sunshine State isn't it?) for stuff like solar power, but solar, on a large scale, requires a lot of open space, space that Florida doesn't have. But I think that's a bit of a cop out, their homes, businesses, and flourishing tourism industry could all invest in microgeneration, and if their problem is having to spend money out of state, they should get their government to incentivize in-state business so they can get a homegrown industry going.

Otherwise, I don't necessarily have a problem, for the moment with the use of sugarcane for ethanol and thermodepolymerization plants with carbon capture, but it's not the best. If they want to become a big producer of biobutanol I'd be happy with that too, even as a long term strategy, but claiming they can't make do with solar and wind is bull, they either need to think small, make space, or innovate.

Edit to add: I forgot before to say that if anyone wants to take over this thread with updates for the next two weeks while I'm on vacation, I'd appreciate it. I'll post a couple of my usual information sites here and whoever wants to can pick through it and post an informational morsel or two every other day or so. Let me know.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
IBM entering solar cell market.

New study from U of M says that higher CAFE standards could mean billions in sales for the Big Three.

Russia claims hundreds of square miles of the Artic in an attempt to get their hands on more oil. Good luck with that, the UN has already slapped them down.

EPA sinks to new low, under Bush's watch, EPA breaks the law by employing too few inspectors.

Big increases in wind in 2007, and only more good things to come.

New super efficient appliances from Bosch save money, electricity, water and maybe the world.

MIT grad students find way to harness the power of there's irony, malls that power themselves from rampant consumerism.

PG&E is buying tons of wind, and also solar and even tidal and wave power. From icon of pollution in Erin Brokovitch to super Green energy provider.

In addition to all that wind news you've already seen, here are your featured articles:

China unveils new MagLev wind generators. Incrase output by 20%, can operate at lower windspeeds. Seen as vast improvement over old generators.

And now the big one...

Super sized MagLev wind generators take up 100 acres...

and provides 1 GW of power.

They're huge but one of these big guys could replace hundreds of regular turbines, and reclaim thousands of acres of land. The builders think these mega mills could provide power at less than one cent per kWh, which makes it far cheaper than even coal, and with none of the bad side effects, they'd produce more power than many nuclear plants even produce. I'd love to see some demonstration models built, and with all the money being thrown around, and scale being an issue, I think it's quite possible we might. At the very least, MagLev tech is here to stay for wind power.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Here are a couple sources if you guys want to check these things out for yourselves, that was my last post before I go on vacation. See you all again on the 14th.

Greenbiz (news site for Green related business news)

Green Wombat (random Green news, mostly Green energy stuff)

Treehugger (this one is from all over, Green architecture, fashion, energy, tech, etc, and it has tons of updates everyday)

The Energy Blog (might see some of the same stuff from Green Wombat, but this focuses on energy specifically)

That should be enough to tide over the avid reader.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Not sure whether these are good news or bad news, but:
The effects of GlobalWarming are getting close to convincing both Brazil and China that economic development can't be separated from environmental protection.
And electric dragsters are poised to overtake nitromethane-fueled competitors.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I hope you've all been keeping up on your news!

Now that I'm back, expect a monster sized post-vacation post later tonight after I've caught up on my sleep.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Apparently Dubya plans to exterminate an endangered species, the black-footed ferret.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Toyota exec bets $100 that they'll be the first to produce LION car.

Sadly that's at odds with another report that says Toyota is attaching themselves to old school Panasonic technology. GM looks to be taking the lead.

This one is heavily skewed towards GM, but it touches on the coming battle between Toyota and GM over electric cars

GM expects the battery packs for the Volt to be ready by the end of the year.

They are also still on track to have a test model ready by Spring 2008, and have mass production ready by 2010. If you remember before, I posted that GM was letting A123 and CPI fight it out for who would get to produce the battery pack for the Volt. GM has decided to work much closer with A123, and will gain proprietary knowledge on cell development for the batteries. CPI is not out of the running, but A123 seems to have taken a step ahead of them. There's a video on YouTube that claims to be an A123 battery getting a nail drilled through it, which is significant, it means they've gotten past a number of safety issues, but it's unconfirmed. And for those who still think GM is down and out, they just posted a three quarters of a billion dollar quarter. I also read an article today that said consumer confidence in American cars is up, but confidence in Asian car brands is down, they're leveling the gaps.

Now, in non-car news....

Scottish researchers have discovered a levitation effect that eliminates friction, I expect we'll see this as an advancement over MagLev tech for wind turbines.

New streetlights use moonlight to save on energy.

California aims to save "nega-watts" by increasing efficiency instead of building new plants

PG&E, in yet another move to Green up their image is putting hybrid service trucks on the streets

PG&E joins others like AMD, Dell and IBM in the "Green Grid"

Totoya exec not yet sold on V2G technology. No surprise, the technology is still in its infancy, but it's nice to see it being discussed at that level.

Government goes solar

Solar Tower falls in Australia, but may rise high in the US or China
IBM plans drastic savings by upgrading servers, both in money and energy.

Special tubes sift pollutants from the air, could be big help to reducing emissions from stacks if the price is right.

Ultra low powered Toshiba laptop battery lasts for 8 hours, comes at a premium, but looks like the wave of the future.

Simple desalinization could save thousands of lives in Africa

Ships are quickly becoming the largest single source of air pollution in the world

But there may be an old fashioned partial solution to the problem

Group IV Semiconductors accelerates development of more efficient solid state lighting

Canada looks to take the lead on ocean power, still behind the US and UK

New aerogels remove heavy metals from water, but at high cost

Ontario has some big complaints about US Coal fired plants and air quality

NASA and Boeing move forwards on flying wing B2 like commercial aircraft

That's all for today, if I have time after work tomorrow I'll try and do another big post to make up for lost time. Stay Green!

[ August 14, 2007, 03:39 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Thanks for taking the time to read&select the articles. Lots of interesting stuff.

Considering Matsushita's/Panasonic's long held dominance in the lithium battery market, I'd be surprised if GM's partnership beat Toyota's. I wouldn't be surprised if Matsushita leapfrogs Li-ions with rechargable aluminum batteries.

The Chicago city council is considering heavily taxing bottled water.

And Bloomberg is slowly gaining ground in his push to tax peak-hour traffic in NewYorkCity.
People need private cars in NYC like fish need bicycles.

[ August 15, 2007, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Last I read Panasonic was still holding fast with old school NIMH batteries in the car battery area. It's part of why they've pushed back the new Prius, because they don't have a battery for it, and GM has locked up some of the best potential battery producers. Besides, my great hope is still the eestor battery, which has the potential to blow all of the rest away if they can get it to work, but details on the battery are still extremely hush hush. None of my sources have been able to get anything other than statements about optimism out of the eestor people.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. GM expects to have a production ready car with next generation battery good to go into mass production by 2010. Toyota just pushed back the PriusX from 2008 to an unknown time, and even the PriusX was going to be loaded with old school NIMHs that give it an 8 mile range of just battery, which pales compared to the estimated 40 miles of the Volt.

They just finished saying that they've decided against using LION batteries in their new hybrids and PHEVs, because they don't think the technology is ready yet. If GM can make it ready faster and get a car to market'll be a big leap forward. But we'll see what happens. We're still a year away from battery packs being completed for GM.

I just finished reading the article on the bottled water tax before I checked back on Hatrack. I think the idea has some merit, though I think it's silly to tax bottled water and leave other plastic bottled drinks alone. If it forces people to switch to soft drinks, the plastic bottle situation would be just as bad, AND people would be more unhealthy. They need to use better materials, and come up with a way to reduce bottle water use but without solely targeting bottled water drinkers. Despite the benefits, I just don't think it's fair.

And I don't know if Bloomberg is going to pull it off. Getting them to agree for the sake of the federal funding is one thing, actually getting them to sign off on the compromise and make it law is another. I hope he can pull it off. It's worked in London, I don't know about Singapore, in reducing traffic and increasing revenue for public transit.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
2009 Ford Fusion spotted on the streets

Totoya Prius has serious flaws with control? Charges are being leveled.

Paper that can hold an electrical charge utilizes carbon nanotubes.

Ethanol threatening responsible crop rotation practices?

Study questions the economic advantages of PHEVs, but I think they are missing a few of the key strong points of PHEVs

College students' computers are carbon emissions and monetary savings waiting to happen.

Looking at the future of energy production in America, and what power companies can do now to soften the financial blow

Carpets clean your air
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Wanted to toss this onto the end. Here's an interview between a blogger at GM-Volt, a pro-GM blog, and Nick Zielinski, the Chief Engineer on the Volt project

He talks about some of the problems and developments of the car, like trying to reduce all the electrical draws from components so the 40 mile range of the battery is achievable, and the biggest problem is the thermal systems of the car, including air conditioning, which is a huge power hog.

I'll preface the interview with this warning though: Zielinksi sounds very monotone and boring, like he's reading a manual. And the blogger sounds like he is reading off a list of questions and just wants Zielinski to hurry up and answer as fast as possible so he can get to the next question. This is the same criticism I had last time I linked to one of their podcasts, but there IS still some decent interesting information in there about the Volt, so it's worth the listen if you can stay awake for it.


And here's a couple more articles of interest...

Roundabouts (European intersections) are surging in America. Studies show them to be safer and more efficient

French fry producer in Britain embraces microgeneration

JD Powers takes a look at flattening hybrid sales. The news isn't all bad. Turns out we're maybe buying less of them because tax breaks are running out and most people are waiting for nicer looking hybrids models coming out, and PHEVs that we all know are in the offing.

[ August 15, 2007, 11:55 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
For everyone in the Metro Detroit area this weekend, there's a rumor that a Chevy Volt will be on display in Birmingham for the Dream Cruise.


Helivolt proves there's big money and big potential in thinfilm photovoltaics.

Wells Fargo follows that by throwing a quarter of a billion dollars into a solar trough project in Nevada. It may be that renewables are one of the safer long term bets in investing at the moment

EPA sets aside a million dollars for small business upgrades to reduce energy costs. I'd love to see the results of this program. It's designed to reduce costs to small businesses but the benefits are far more reaching.

Be careful in the developing world with a cap and trade system, it might actually lead to more deforestation.

School moms not allowed to drive kids to school? Not for the reason you might think, but a good reason anyway.

Thin film photovoltaics (TFPV) could be a 7 billion dollar industry by 2015. It's cheap, easier and faster to produce, and you can put it everywhere.


Now your two featured articles for the day...

One is of a more personal nature. You may remember awhile back I ranted a bit about plans for a BP refinery in Chicago to dump a bunch of extra waste into my backyard, ahem, into Lake Michigan. Well Chicago is fighting back against decisions made at the state level. Their plan would bar the city from using any BP gas for public vehicles, and would bar three major banks who share directors with BP, unless BP changes their mind about the dumping. I've still received nothing in the way of a response from the governor or my congressmen from when I wrote them about this issue.

And this is some potential big news for solar power. Developments from the National Renewable Energy Lab could potentially increase the efficiency of solar panels threefold using silicon nano-crystals.

The discover could lead to increasingly inexpensive and efficient silicon solar cells. Senior research fellow Arthur Nozik notes that current silicon cells are theoretically limited to roughly 30% efficiency on their own, and 40% efficiency with concentrating mirrors. This new kind of cell, however, could be easily be 40% efficient on their own and up to 60% efficient with concentrators!


The nano-crystals could prove much easier to produce than high efficiency mono-crystalline solar panels, and they will contain no toxic substances, unlike other materials that have shown these 'multi-electron' properties.

This is possibly a major breakthrough. There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome. The first is how to harvest the energy. It isn't as straightforward as it is with current technology, they need special panels to do it, and they haven't really been invented yet. But 60% efficiency is dramatically better than what we had even five years ago, actually it's dramatically better than anything we have now, or that we thought we'd have any time soon.

Solar is making huge advances in technology that increase output, decrase cost, and are more clever ways of putting solar closer to home. This latest development is still in the R&D phase, but it's just one more piece of news that helps prove that renewables are here to stay, and they can compete with the polluting utilities, and that's with much, much less funding (though as you can see, big business thinks there's a lot of potential too!)

Stay Green Hatrack!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Too tired to even do the short version that I usually do, so you'll have to explore the links to see what's in them. Sorry, but it's better than nothing!

Chicago, Bottled Water, Plastic

Army, Tanks, Hybrids

Biodiesel, Michigan, Plants

Okay this one I will comment on, because it's Bush being stupid and trying to claim credit for something that's already been done. He's created a DARPA for Renewable energy, which is dumb because we ALREADY HAVE A RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH LAB! If anything this will waste money and actually SLOW DOWN advancement.

Global Warming, Hot Water, Nuclear Power

BP, Chicago, and other groups actually sit down to talk about the Lake Michigan issue

China, Deserts, Battle

Cellulosic ethanol, funding

Even the people who run bottled water plants can't tell the difference between their own beverages and tap water, at least not in Britain.

I should add on that last note about water, that after driving around most of the East coast and the south, the water really does taste different all over the place, and I've yet to find anything that tastes near as good as it does at home, but ice water did tend to taste closely the same wherever I went.

Anywho, I just thought that article was interesting. The Thames was rated as having better tasting water than the bottled waters, but it was just a random taste test of a few people, so take that as you will.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
The scourge of the mining industry

Biofuels' use of water may be too much for some

Another example of using kinetic energy for microgeneration...this one has a nifty video.

Just a small entry for today, not a lot of super interesting articles, unless you guys wanted to hear more about the Farm Bill and sugar subsidies. I'll post again tomorrow night.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
Here's a really interesting series of pages that a friend linked me to. This guy is very smart. I think a lot of his ideas are sound. John McCarthy's energy page.

This note in particular interested me: "[2003 April 9: GM just announced the end of its EV-1 electric car program. Of the more than 1,000 built by GM and leased in California, about 375 are still on the road. GM will take them all back when their leases expire. The program cost GM about $1 billion. The whole electric car program was a triumph of appeasement of ideology over engineering knowledge. The cars were unsuccessful except for hobbyists for exactly the reasons that were known before GM built them.]" I've always thought electric cars were a bad idea, pending some gigantic breakthrough in battery technology, which so far we aren't even close to.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
Another quote from John McCarthy, this time from his main page.

The Sustainability of Human Progress
Many people, including many scientists, mistakenly believe that human progress, in the form it has taken in the last few hundred years, is unsustainable. The sustainabililty page and its subsidiaries attempt to summarize the scientific basis for technological optimism. There is also a section discussing related ideological phenomena and the advocacy politics to which ideologies have given rise.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Not a big fan of the energy page you linked Tatiana. Being pro-nuclear is fine and all, though I agree with the people he disagrees with that nuclear shouldn't be considered a renewable energy source. It isn't. It might be a clean source of power, but it isn't renewable in the sense the others are.

I also think they were much harder on battery technology and renewables than is fair, and frankly I don't think the guy is really up to speed on a lot of the stuff he is throwing negative attention towards. Maybe his page just hasn't been updated recently, but there have been some huge advances made in the last couple years. Lithium Ion batteries are being revolutionized, solar power is getting cheaper to produce and is putting out more power. Wind is getting cheaper, with fewer bird strikes, quieter blades, and more energy.

Furthermore, shale and tar sands are extremely messy, even if they have become more cost effective because of the price of oil. They create a lot of pollution, the type that BP likes to just dump in the middle of Lake Michigan. It should be a last resort, and we should be working on efficiency and energy reductions. I just don't like his whole attitude on energy use.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Anyway, here's an update, not many of my sources have been updated lately, so it's another small one:

The story behind biofuels' sustainability

Water photoelectrolysis might not be that far off, could pave the way for realizable hydrogen cars.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
I'll put it more bluntly: John McCarthy is a liar.
eg GM engineered EV1 for failure so they could run whining "It's impossible" to Congress; just as GM had previously whined "It's impossible" about seatbelts, lead-free engines, lower-pollution engines, the 55mph speed limit, more fuel-efficient automobiles, mileage standards for manufacturers, catalytic converters, airbags, nonChloroFluoroCarbon-based air-conditioners, etc...

[ August 20, 2007, 07:38 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
aspectre, do you have any data to back that up? What he says matches my understanding of the technology really well. I believe him.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Half dozen or so updates for today. I left off some stuff from yesterday but I'm replacing it with better news from today, so don't worry.

Green roofs catching on in the US

Sun Microsystems reduces number of servers by half, reduces power consumption by 80% and increases computing power by over 450% Yet another case of going Green and saving green.

Beijing says its doing better reducing pollution for the Olympics...but is it really?

Another British goal might be missed in the fight for renewables.

A look at what the road of the future might be - It powers the nation, contains a nice portion of our infrastructure, and makes driving easier, safer, and more enjoyable.

This I think I've shown before, but it's just plain cool. The story is actually wrong, it wasn't caused by logging, it was actually caused by a huge storm in Sweden. After the trucks and clearing materials came through to clean up after the mess, that's the image that was left in the ground.

In another article on my small but continued fight against BP dumping in Lake Michigan...apparently Pearl Jam has joined the fight.

The DOE has awarded a contract to United Solar Ovonics to reduce the cost of solar energy.

Featured article for the day goes to solar...

Generally, solar cells on the market today do not produce much electricity from ultraviolet light, instead it is either filtered out or absorbed by the cell, heating the cell. That heat is wasted energy and could even lead to damage to the cell. However, researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered a way to utilize that energy by placing a film of silicon nanoparticles onto the silicon solar cell. By diluting particles of silicon in alcohol, covering a solar cell with it and letting the alcohol evaporate to leave the nanoparticles of silicon on the cell, the team has increased the power output by 67% in the ultraviolet range and about 10% in the visible range. According to Munir Nayfeh, a physicist at the University of Illinois, "Our results point to a significant role for charge transport across the film and rectification at the nanoparticle interface." Nayfeh also believes that this process could be added onto the existing process of cell creation at very little cost. This could potentially be another solar breakthrough by increasing the voltage of cells which are very similar to those already being produced today.
The science and story behind it

This is just the latest in a large, long string of breakthroughs to make solar cheaper and far more efficient. I can't wait to see what solar looks like in another year when all these technologies have been integrated and designs have been updated.

[ August 22, 2007, 02:59 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
That Swedish picture is the coolest thing I've ever seen.

I'm not sure about the solar road, but I liked the commentor's idea of running water pipes under the road to heat it up.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
The solar road is probably a decade into the future, but as much as it costs, I think it would be feasible. It wouldn't have to be replaced as often as regular roads, so you wouldn't have the usual maintenance issues. Besides, power companies would own the solar part and sell the energy, so they would pay for a piece of the cost, as would the cable companies for the cables running through the road and so on. With so much infrastructure bundled into one package, the cost would be shared across many parts of the public and private sectors. Plus if the pipes under the road heated it up and in the northern states both eliminated the need for snow plows and salt, and got rid of the ice, it would make them last longer (ice is a major killer of roads) and it would be a huge financial relief not to have to clear the roads all winter.

I think it would pay for itself in the long run, or at least the cost would be offset enough to be financially feasible, but they still have a lot of kinks to work out.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
If the $5000 per twelve foot by twelve foot panel is correct, and the 25k square miles of surface is correct, resurfacing all of the surface would cost 24.2 trillion dollars. That is assuming the $5000 per twelve foot by twelve foot panel includes all associated costs.

Repair costs would also likely be high, and I suspect much higher than our current costs, simply because replacing even a small part of the roadway would always be expensive.

There's only about $440 billion spent on energy annually, right now.

$24.2 trillion is approaching twice the entire US GDP.

I suspect there are more economical ways to provide energy.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Well they wouldn't do every road in the US, that'd be silly, at least at the outset.

If something like this were ever actually tried, it'd likely only be on interstates, and at that, probably only in the south where solar would be a constant year round source. That would drastically drop the cost, which I assume would also drop once A. Production began B. They actually get a working prototype.

I'd love to see something like this tried in the future, but they'd have to bring down costs, and I'd have to see a breakdown of where the costs would come from. The country needs a couple trillion dollars in infrastructure upgrades. I'd be interested to see what it would cost to upgrade everything versus integrated technologies like this. Probably still more expensive for this, but I expect costs to come down.

Plus these would be roads that generate profit. Other than toll roads, when has that ever happened?
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
On a per-unit basis, the price is horrible. It doesn't matter how much you start with, it will still be a bad price.

Of course, if a private company wants to put up the funds to test it, works for me. When they can show the costs are at least in the vague ballpark of the benefits, then small pilot projects might make sense. Right now it isn't even close.

And roads generate profits all the time, they just aren't profits for the state. Also, I think you'll find that most of our roads are fine insofar as the paved surface goes, and that most of the infrastructure upgrades we need have almost nothing to do with what the paved surface is. Spending on this would take money away from replacing bridges with virtual certainty.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Well, I wasn't just talking about replacing bridges. We need to replace those, and sewer systems, water pipes, transmission lines, etc.

Okay, I guess I see what you're saying about indirect profits from roads being there, but that's not what I was talking about.

Also, I think you'll find that most of our roads are fine insofar as the paved surface goes,
How far north have you ventured? You wouldn't say that if you lived in Michigan (of course it's our own fault, but still).

I think a private company putting up the funds would be fine. They'd probably operate the road as a toll road, and they'd also get the profit from the power, and from the cables that run under the road that provide internet and cable to the surrounding community, it would just be a really expensive up front cost for potential very long term gains. If they could bring costs down, perhaps through increasing production (that's how it works isn't it?) and if solar can come through with some breakthroughs, I think it could work depending on where its built.

But we still don't know a lot about the proposed design. What sort of kilowattage are they expecting to make from each section? What is the life expectancy of each section? If each section is expected to last for 50 years, then hey, at 24 trillion dollars it would pay for itself, without the profit from other parts of the road. I just don't see the point in shooting something down before we really know much about it, I like to stay optimistic.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
I do not think we will be capable of making a section of road that will take heavy traffic for 50 years without requiring maintenance any time in the near future. I would suspect it will be more like every section will need replacing or major repair (hopefully for less than the initial cost) every five to ten years, simply because stuff wears out under that sort of use; there is no magic material that doesn't. Unless the replacement/repair cost is lower than I would anticipate by an order of magnitude or two, this wouldn't ever repay the initial investment.

The page you linked links to a cost calculation that includes some of the numbers you wonder about.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Hm, after reading the websites involved with the article, I think it's feasible, on a smaller scale over the course of a few decades, depending entirely upon how future advances change the cost of the materials involved. Especially if this is weaved into a new electric car driven future. There'd be another technical challenge to fix, the safety issue behind quick charging stations. The new LION batteries that A123, CPI and others are working on can be charged in 10 minutes, but you have to have a special station to do it, and it's not really dummy proof. Factor in the cost of all the oil we import every year for fuel, the cost of refining, and then the cost of infrastructure upgrades for the nation's energy grid, plus all the cost of fuel for all the power plants of the country, the cost of upgrading old power plants, the cost of building new power plants, the cost of building and repairing old roads, the cost of internet and phone infrastructure, and more. Factor all that in on a yearly basis and I think it starts to sound feasible, if certain technologies come through.

As it is? It's not going to work. But in the next ten years? I think it would be worth a second look. Nanopvcs I think will drastically bring down the cost of the roadways, while at the same time bringing up their effectiveness. If you read the website, it says that FULLY covering the area in question would provide enough power to power to entire PLANET, and that's using conservative estimates with low efficiency and low sunlight every day. In reality you'd only need a third of that area, which means more like $8 trillion dollars, which drops even more when you bring in cheaper PVCs and more efficient ones. Spread that out over 20 years, and include a lot of partnerships with private corporations, and I think it starts to sound a lot more feasible.

Anyway, here's your updates for today:

Trying to squeeze every last bit of efficiency and dimes out of old school (and yet still new) silicon PVCs. Applied Materials is trying to make nanosolar amorphous silicon-based PVCs more standardized, cheaper and efficient, but is it really going to beat next-gen tech?

A little walk down memory lane. New York before cars

Skyscrapers are wasteful enemies? Think again, skycrapers could be the greenest thing yet.

Big surprise, President Bush has broken the law when it comes to Global Warming.

A look at the numbers .... why installing a PV system on your roof is as much an investment as it is a gesture to save the world.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
What a strange little article about NYC and cars. I thought cars were a needed improvement over all the horse poo that went with the buggies.

Neat ideas for green skyscrapers. I'd love to have a window in my office, let alone a pleasant garden to eat lunch in. I literally go the entire work day without seeing the outside world. Florida heat at 1:30 in the afternoon isn't worth it to see the sky, IMO.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
The new Bank of America tower in NYC, which I've mentioned on here before, and you can find some details about on Wikipedia or elsewhere is either already or is going to be a LEED certified platinum Green building. It will recycle grey water, help power itself, use solar lighting, and many other Green advances in architecture. It will cose a few million more than a regular building, but the builders plan to recoup the loss in the first decade of use for the building. Pure profit after that.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Lots of stuff today, it'll have to sustain you guys, as I have to work a lot the next two days, and I'll only be posting something that REALLY catches me eye....

Marine Current Turbines is building the largest tidal turbine to date. It's not that powerful, only a 1.2MW, but considering we didn't have anything a year ago, that's some great progress. I expect this budding technology to only advance more and more in the coming years.

How Green tech investments made big green for four guys (now millionaires).

Ford releases a Product Sustainability Report, first of its kind in the auto industry.

Weather Channel goes Green.

Pacific Northwest states join with Canadian territories to form regional goals and plans to reduce CO2 by 2020.

New wind turbine designed to suck huge amounts of water from the air, could be boon to farmers and parched cities alike.

Not strictly a Green article, but it's interesting. Could the next Space Race be the same as the first? Maybe, but with a lot more potentially at stake.

Building Green from the ground up isn't as expensive as you think.

Dodge Sprinter will be first commercial PHEV, using large LION batteries from Johnson Controls (big ones, it's a big car) to run it.

Energy sipping processor moves at 500Mhz and uses only one WATT of energy. When idle it slides by at 1/10 of a watt. Their next goal are 1Ghz and 1.5Ghz models that run on 3.5 and 7.5 watts respectively.

GM and Toyota are still trading barbs in the press over the near future of Lithium Ion batterires. Rumors are now that GM will produce 60,000 Volt PHEVs in 2010, an almost ludicrous number when you consider that neither A123 nor CPI has any experience with that kind of volume. Toyota only sold 6,000 Prius hybrids in their first year. But many think it will be impossible for GM to meet their less than $30K price point without that kind of volume. Toyota has released several statements in the last couple weeks saying they still think the technology is years away from being feasible. Maybe, maybe not, but GM is already releasing performance estimates from their batteries.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Quick update tonight. Super short form for the lesser important ones, regular link summations for the rest.

Ford reduces fuel use through LEDs

One piece of those solar roads makes its way into England, heated roads.

Solar Decathalon approaches.

Climate Change underground

Island people use nature to fight nature.

Too expensive to reduce emissions in the US? How about in Botswana?

Los Angeles to start residential zoning in the clouds? Building houses in derigibles.

Nature might find a way to cull our overpopulation with a surge in new diseases.

Toyota offers more smack talk on PHEVs. Considering their PriusX, the next Prius version is supposed to be PHEV capable. It's a bit funny to hear them spouting this. It's only because GM is going to release the first true PHEV before them with much better batteries. For a company that has been mopping the floor lately with US companies, they're being a bit childish about it.

I've seen this kind of thing elsewhere, but here's a video giving you an idea of what happens when everyone is FORCED to go the speed limit.

Ethanol breakthrough? Maybe. A new bacteria is being touted as the key to super efficient Ethanol creation.

Plans for a new wind farm in Lake Erie may spell jobs for Ohioans and energy as well.

California developer makes solar power standard on new homes.

TXU is planning on adding 3GW of new wind energy in Texas soon. They plan to try a new method involving air compression to harness wind energy at night, and use it during the day when consumption is high.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Edit in: Just realised the below is a nonsequiter inregard to the above discussion of solar-power roads, yet starts as if it were referring to the same system.
It's in reference to an article on a mechanical generating system (or linked to through an earlier article here).

Past&presentday cars&trucks are absurdly inefficient in producing power and applying it to the road, in turning the potential energy contained within fuel into the forward movement of a vehicle.
After all that wastage in converting potential energy into up&down piston movement into rotary motions into forward motion, the "power-producing" roadway is proposing to suck the power out of that vehicular forward motion to create an up&down piston movement to drive a the automobile engines will have to work harder, wastefully burn even more fuel to keep the vehicles moving forward at the same speed.
It'd make a heckuvalot more sense to have efficient electric motors driving the roadway pistons up&down to provide forward movement to unpowered automobiles. Not that that would make any sense in the real world.
Even excluding weathering and icing&deicing -- which would be MAJOR problems -- those roadway sections would quickly self-destruct due to self-grinding from continuously direction-shifting variable-weight loads. Effectively, the idea behind "power-producing" roads is to rip off drivers by turning roadways into a continuous series of shallow potholes.

No one was forced to drive at 55mph. Whatcha had was a buncha drivers who could easily drive their vehicles faster than 55mph becoming dangerously frustrated from getting logjammed by a buncha malicious lawbreakers. And nothing else.

Yeah, GM is gonna be selling fuel-celled cars too. And I'm gonna be hitting 900 MajorLeague homeruns within a single season. Nice thing about gonna be is ya can claim anything whatsoever, no matter how improbable, as long as it's possible.
The only people "forcing" Toyota to go more electric are some American car owners who have already been converting their Priuses for all-electric operating capability. Toyota built the Prius assuming there wouldn't be a market for all-electric capability, and their customers have proven them wrong. So they're following their customers' lead.
Too bad GM couldn't have learned that lesson about pleasing the niche market from their EV1 customers. Instead ya had a buncha VROOM-VROOM idjits running the show out to prove that the market for vehicles as transportation-only couldn't exist.

And yeah, Tatiana, I'll get back to the EV1. Just burned out while typing a response to your original question, and saved it to notebook for later continuance and eventual posting.

[ August 26, 2007, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Well GM has certainly caught on now. If anything they're going too far in the other direction, pumping out hybrids and electric cars all over the place.

And what law did they break? Seriously, specifically, I'm not being sarcastic I'm just curious as to what it was. If all the cars behind them had followed the speed limit, they wouldn't need to get dangerously frustrated, wasn't that the point?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
What was going to be a small update ended up being much bigger when I found a ton of great artcles and pieces of news on Green developments. Some of them I'm going to go a bit more into.

Power tools you aren't using? How about a car sitting in your garage you don't want to part with? Rental sites could be the new ebay as new sites pair lenders with borrowers in a way to squeeze cash out of idle property.

The Holy Cross Project is currently under construction in the 9th War in New Orleans. The goal for these new large and single family homes is to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, and to have zero energy requirements due to efficient design and solar power on the roofs. They will also utilize that special Bluewood you may have seen on Extreme Home Makeover that protects against insect infestations, mold and fungus, meaning no black mold, and no fumigation. There are several other advances and advantages to these homes as well, and the whole project is amazing. The project in the Ninth War was started by Brad Pitt, and the final design for the home has been selected. Follow this link for an interactive and informative tour of the house. Seriously it's full of tons of Green goodies.

Related to that, some are calling for more regulation regarding the size of new homes being built in the US. Personally I say if they want to build huge homes, they should have to offset the huge footprint. I'd rather people built smaller homes, but for bigger families they make more sense (bigger homes I mean). But without taking a Census every year to determine residency status, I can't see a system like that really working.
The Winds of Change is a book that details the history of the fall of empires and impact on the planet of global and local climate change, showing that it's happened on a large scale in history, and it's ruined kingdoms and empires.

This isn't strictly an environmental link , but it is a growing concern for the environment under the ice in the North Pole. There's a bruhaha starting over resources in the north and just who gets them. Russia has already planted a flag, and Canada is claiming total ownership of the soon to be possible Northwest Passage, a route that will save hundreds if not thousands of miles by sea over the more southern Panama Canal for many ships. Once the Arctic is ice free, something scientists saying is only decades, if not less, away, there will be a major fight for resources and sea lanes, one that Canada is woefully unequipped to fight. It's opened a bigger argument amongst Canadians over closeness to America. NAFTA would demand that Canada sell a great deal of that oil to America, should the Canadians get it at all, and if America really demanded, and for that matter, backed up Canada's claim with our Navy, they wouldn't have much room to tell us no. But Canadians fear coming closer to America, fearing they'll end up being just another state, or worse, that Republicans won't allow them to have the vote at all. Anyway, this will be an issue of increasing importance in the years to come, and I might just start a full thread on it depending on developments.

Growing fake coral reefs in the Red Sea might be the answer to protecting natural reefs while they recooperate.

Israeli company might have perfected a new method of turning CO2 emissions into algae based biofuel. Said to be leaps and bounds ahead of US rival.

Sunshine State based Florida Crystals may build Cellulosic Ethanol plant.

GM may build new type of hybrid. This hybrid would be a "mild" hybrid system, built for the masses. It's incredibly cheaper than full on two-mode hybrid systems, and they believe this paired with new LION batteries will allow them to make cheaper hybrids for the masses. It's still a few years away, but they also may pair this with new HCCI engines that are up to 25% more efficient than present day ICEs, since they won't have to power as much with advanced batteries and other efficient parts, it would be yet another saving.

GM also offers full on hybrids like this new GMC Yukon, which nets big savings over its gas guzzling parent.
California may meet high renewable needs by contracting out of state.

Well Fargo investing huge amounts of money in the Green sector and renewable energy.

Vinrod Kholsa says: 'Big problems require big solutions.'

New small fuel cell could be boon to long lasting battery life for electronics. Say hello to 100 hour battery life for laptops.

After Edwards, Obama unveils his new plan for CAFE standards. Instead of setting 40mpg as the goal by 2016, he would impose a 4% hike per year that would accumulate to almost that by the same time, but allow the changes to happen gradually. The speech was made back in May, but I missed it, so here it is, quite late, if you want to read it.

Why Coal isn't, won't be, and can never be the answer to our energy crisis.

Surprise surprise! Bush's EPA wants to relax yet more rules and violate the Clean Air Act. This time he wants to reduce regulation on emissions for oil zero regulations. Doesn't it put your mind at ease when the EPA violates the landmark law it enacted 30 years ago?

In the latest update on the War between Chicago, Illinois, and the BP plant in Indiana:

Illinois challenges the air quality standards of the plant, which may require it to reduce it's emissions by half.

[ August 27, 2007, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
The law* is that the driver of a slower-moving vehicle must move into the right lane if his/her vehicle is impeding the movement of a given*number of cars behind them. Or pull over to the side of the road at the first point that the driver can do so safely if there is only one lane per direction of travel.
There is no "unless the slower-moving vehicle is being driven at the speed limit" exception*.
* In all states as far as I am aware, though I think that the number of cars triggering that required movement into the right lane varies from state to state. The only exceptions I know of are for Presidential motorcades and funeral processions, which often require a prearranged police escort if they block traffic.

I believe GM is still playing "If you build it, they won't come." with their hybrids so they can whine to Congress that the proposed new car regulations are too strict.
Honda's already proven that using hybrid technology as an after-design add-on merely to boost power doesn't appeal to most people who want to purchase a hybrid. Its hybridCivic accelerates faster than its regularCivic of the same engine displacement, but doesn't have the level of fuel-saving that could even vaguely justify the extra cost; not even at the level that could make the careful purchaser think "It's worth the extra cost to help save the environment."

The hybridCivic has been discontinued because of low sales (along with several other hybrids built by nonAmerican companies; I think, haven't been paying sufficient attention).
Problem is that the folks who want faster acceleration can get it cheaper both initially and in the total time of expectable ownership by paying for the larger-engine option. Such folks don't particularly care about saving fuel or the environment.
GM hybrids are going the same route: after-design add-ons for higher acceleration and marginal fuel-savings.

If GM were serious about the attempt, they would at least reprogram the fuel-air injectors and other electronicly-controlled engine systems to run full-time in economy mode, sacrificing some acceleration for larger fuel-savings. Then sell at no-profit or even subsidize sales just to gain&maintain a market foothold while they reengineer those vehicles from ground up to become true hybrids.

As for their "plans" for electrics and fuel-cells, GM has spent far too much money and energy on superficial "pimp my ride" redesigns for "New! New! New!" advertising campaigns which would have been far better spent on engineering better vehicles for me to take GM seriously; at least until after they've delivered on their brags.
And perhaps a few years after then. eg Last week, three GM models reached the (Lexus-level) top-tier of long-term customer satisfaction and dependability (as measured over three years); a first for GM. All three GM models have already been discontinued.

[ August 30, 2007, 01:48 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
There's a law that says you have to move out of the way for people who want to break the law or else YOU are breaking the law? That's absurd.

As for GM: I've seen several different articles suggesting that GM will sell the new hybrid Yukon either at no profit or at a loss to get it into the market so they can raise production and make money.

Why would they spend billions of dollars, literally, on that, and on electric cars, if they weren't serious about it? I think it's a much different atmosphere than the days of the EV1. They're pinning a lot of their future and their money on greener cars, and for that matter, the Saturn VUE and Saturn Aura hybrids are already selling well, and they just started selling them. They KNOW that the sales are there, and they KNOW that Congress will for sure be enacting higher CAFE standards. Complaining to Congress isn't going to work this time.

I too await actual prouction on something like the Chevy Volt and the Dodge Sprinter PHEVs, and the new BAS mild hybrid cars. But it seems like they are throwing a lot of money away if they truly aren't serious about it.

Which were the three GM models that were discontinued?
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Definitely a Buick and I think a Cadillac and possibly another Cadillac . Couldn't easily find the article that I originally read which mentioned the specific models and that they had been discontinued.

Most states have a safe speed law that supercedes maximum speed laws. The safe speed is presumed to be the average speed of the majority of drivers on a given stretch of road because speed differentials between vehicles is a greater hazard than speed in-and-of itself. The requirement that slow drivers must allow "go with the flow" drivers to pass minimizes that hazard.
No state recognizes a driver's right to enforce traffic laws upon others. That power is strictly reserved for law enforcement. The last thing anyone needs on the road are civilians playing at cops&robbers: too easy to end up in a lethal version of bumper cars.

The "billions" spent on Research&Development is mostly for re-engineering and retooling the assembly lines for "new" versions of old favorites. Of the amount spent for actually R&Ding new automobile technology, most of the R&D attributed as being expended on hybrids/etc is for processes and products that they desire for use in regular internal combustion vehicles.
The small amount left over for R&D to develop&manufacture hybid/etc technology itself isn't in the same ballpark as the true billions they spend to make minor changes to eg the location or appearance of trim/headlights/taillights/etc to create "new" models, or to advertise those "new" models.

I'd love to be proven wrong but American executives have a 40-year history of ignoring the results of or sabotaging their own R&D programs, and of refusing to integrate new technology until after a steep decline in their marketshare forces them to accept that customers will choose and pay a premium for that better product.
AmericanMotors collapsed, Chrysler would have collapsed without first a goverment bailout then a Mercedes buyout, and Ford and GM have lost over half of their US marketshare because of that risk aversive nature.
Meanwhile, "tin box" makers like Toyota and "brick outhouse" makers like Mercedes have embraced RiDing the cutting edge, and have been rewarded by strong profits on highly increased marketshare. (Though Mercedes has been becoming more like American manufacturers with every passing year; ie relying on salesmanship of past glories to sell new cars, and whining "We can't!!!" to the governments: EU, German, and US.)

As far as I can tell, Ford and GM are still being run by salesmen of the "car lot manager" variety, whose egos are tied to demonstrating how "smart" they are by exploiting customer naivete* rather than to making the best product possible, or even to making money.
The problem being that there is a limited number of gullible customers, which steadily decreases as an ever greater percentage notice that they've been screwed. Can't keep a business healthy over the long run when today's sales are based on loss of future sales.

* Including the desire to social climb.

[ August 28, 2007, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
So they aren't just mislabeling or spinning the facts, they are blatently outright giving baldfaced lies in press statements? And all the hype and millions they say they are spending on developing new cars is just a giant spin...for what?

I just don't get what they could even THINK they would get from such an effort. 15 years ago the lies made sense, and they WORKED, but gas was $2 a gallon cheaper back then, sales of hybrids didn't exist, and they were on top from selling gas guzzling SUVs. They COULD make an efficient, expensive car, and half ass it then go crying to the government. They might be a bit dense when it comes to changing trends, but they aren't suicidal. They know that there is a market, a potentially huge market, they know that Congress will for SURE be making CAFE changes that haven't been changed in at least a decade, and they know that they are being replaced by high efficiency imports and that they won't be getting a bail-out, especially if something like Obama's healthcare for efficiency bail-out plans come to life.

Why spend the money on researching new batteries? Why spend the money on new engine designs and more efficient features? Why has Ford been developing and is now using car parts made from plants rather than petroleum? And why have they totally remodeled several of their plants to make them many times more energy efficient?

I don't think it's just talk anymore. The kind of attitudes you're describing were used in the 90's because they WORKED in the 90's. In the 00's, they don't, and for obvious reasons that any layperson could see. Before it was change or suffer time, now it's change or die, and they've got the plans on the table to do so. You're saying they are actually buying their way into banktrupcy, and I don't believe it.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
"...blatantly outright giving baldfaced lies in press statements?
...They might be a bit dense when it comes to changing trends, but they aren't suicidal.

It's called advertising. That's whatcha get when ya put people who think that salesmanship is everything in charge of companies.
Look at HP's near-suicide after its engineer founders retired and marketers were put in charge. Or Apple during the time when they had replaced Jobs with a Pepsi salesman.

"Why spend the money on researching new batteries? Why spend the money on new engine designs and more efficient features? Why has Ford been developing and is now using car parts made from plants rather than petroleum? And why have they totally remodeled several of their plants to make them many times more energy efficient?"

Cuz they're getting massacred by Toyota, Mercedes, Hyundai, etc. And some minutely small rational portion of those executive/stockholder minds, more likely survival instinct is driving them to mimic those foreign-owned companies' example. They just have a LOT of well earned skepticism to overcome before I'll believe that they've really changed their postWWII corporate culture.
Frankly, their wheedling Congress into subsidizing biofuels seems to be more of the same old "nothing is more sacred than our right to spew filth" than a commitment to improve their companies' product line.

Let 'em come out and lobby in support of banning*all personal-transport/family vehicles which use more fuel than the current fleet average of 27.5miles per gallon / 8.55litres per 100kilometres, and I'll believe that they're being serious. Over half of all automobiles already exceed that mileage, so nobody can truthfully argue that it's impossible to have the entire fleet do better than 27.5mpg.

I mean good grief, the only vehicles that need 150kilowatt/~201horsepower are tractor-trailer rigs traveling at the speed limit going uphill on medium grades. 350kilowatts/~470horsepower is enough to pull those rigs up steep grades.
And it ain't as if it's legal to travel above 81mph -- except on small portions of the German Autobahn; and even there, driving above 130kilometres per hour makes the driver automaticly liable for accidents, at least partially even for accidents that an under130kph driver clearly caused -- so the excess horsepower found in many automobiles isn't needed to overcome air-resistance either.

Such a law would also eliminate the unnecessary hazard of uselessly heavy hunks of junk being driven by people trying to impress via "I'm bigger than you, so I'm more important." Just cuz someone can legally drive doesn't mean that they should be legally entitled to endanger others with such monstrosities.
People are also legally allowed to drink booze, but ya don't see any sane person arguing that driving-while-drunk should be legal. Same principle applies.

* Obviously there will be a commercial need for mini-vans, vans, mini-buses, light&heavy-duty pickups for businesses. Let them be registered under business licences for that purpose, with LARGE/confiscatory fines for misstating the purpose for owning such vehicles. No exemptions for company cars given to individuals for personal travel; ie driving to and from home, driving around town to meetings or lunch, etc. If driving around a client in a larger vehicle or limousine is necessary, let 'em hire a limousine service. ie No exemptions for mostly-personal-use gas-hogs by pretending that they are a "business necessity" because someone can conceive of a circumstance in which that personal vehicle might be used to transport a client.
Similarly there are handicapped people who also need such vans for easy access features and to carry their gear, and people with large families who need mini-buses with a lot of seating. Let them also be registered under licenses granting exemption. And equally confiscatory fines for lying (ie have a higher standard of misconduct than misstatement before triggering the strongest penalty.)
As for RecreationalVehicles, maybe exemptions for RVs being used as primary homes. Probably less wasteful than most houses.

[ August 30, 2007, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Not all advertising is blatently misleading, we have somewhat weak but still established laws against false advertising, but you aren't talking about advertising, you're talking about PR.

The problem is that by and large Americans still want those big dirty giant monstrosities. If the price of gas was a dollar a gallon, I doubt we'd be having this discussion at all. So GM is coming up with ways of making them more fuel efficient (still falling short of where I'd like them, but it's progress) so they can satisfy both customer demands: Behemoths and Fuel Efficiency. Why do you think many in the auto industry are clamoring for a legally mandated floor to the price of oil? Because if and when the price for a barrel of oil bottoms out, then people will flock back to those big fuel wasting behemoths and many of them who were buying a Prius to save on fuel costs will be switching with them. They want guarantees that if they make a big expensive switch, they aren't going to get screwed for it in the future, as clearly there is still a market for those cars even when the price is high.

While I think the mess the Big Three are in is largely of their own making, there's still blame to go towards the lack of regulation guiding from Congress. And that goes beyond the Autoindustry. They don't know what is going on. Industry wants to know if there is going to be a carbon cap so they can start planning now. I think we all know there IS going to be just such a cap one day, probably not far off, and the further we put it off, the further companies will put it off, and it will be made more expensive because they will have to make a lot of expensive short term changes instead of starting now to make more inexpensive longterm changes. If Congress were to step up now and say "Okay this is it, we're setting up a carbon cap and trade system and this is what part the autoindustry is going to play, and these are the new emissions standards from tailpipes, and these are the new MPG standards that you have to meet, and here are the benchmarks," then they could all plan better. But instead they get nothing for 10 years, and oil is cheap for all those years, and sales are high for all those years, and they have little impetus to change.

And now things are different. So they will change with the times. They've spent millions developing these efficient technologies like the recently unveiled HCCI engine, which gets the same efficiency or very near, to a diesel, but without the nasty side effects, the only downside is that you can't go as fast as a traditional car's top speed can go without switching back to a normal ICE with spark plugs. But they are looking at this to be the new engine on hybrids and other "mild" hybrid cars they are developing. And they are spending a lot on battery research. This is just GM mind you, Ford has a lot of their own developments, some of which look very promising, but on the whole I have less hope for them than I do GM.

Fact of the matter is, I think there is just way too much information coming out of GM about things already in development and things planned. I've seen several cars that were either huge or sports cars, that would have been immensely wasteful get left on the concept car trash heap because in today's world they can't survive, but in the 90's they would have produced those things in a heartbeat. And you slam them for making hybrids as an afterthought and yet Honda doesn't have a true hybrid, only modified Civics and Accords. Only the Prius was designed from the ground up to be a hybrid, and it'll be joined in the next few years by other such designed cars, as well as dozens of "afterthought" hybrids.

As for the rules you propose there, The Big Three could waste all the time, money and effort they want on just such a measure, but they won't for one simple and very easy to believe reason: The public will never support it. They'll kill it before it ever gets out of committee, if it even makes it to committee, which I'd also doubt. Not to mention that if you do that, you have to ban a lot of other stuff, like private jets and helicopters, also big wasters that the uberwealthy would not enjoy losing access to, and they would speak up, also helping it die a FAST death.

We'll see who is right in a couple of years, but I think you're stuck in 90's mode, which I guess given your immense anti-Big Three baggage isn't all that surprising, but things have changed and the Big Three has changed. Have you looked at Big Three sales in Europe lately? They make a lot of great, green cars there, and have even tried importing them to the US over the last couple years, but most of them die a slow death because Americans just don't want them. And that's not crying to Congress, it's poor sales records from cars people have negative reactions to. But now people want these cars, and now they are much more cost effective to sell. And I think the Big Three have caught onto that, and I think they are making serious changes in the products they plan to sell.

We won't know who is right for a few years, but the news I see coming out of Detroit is too much for me to believe your 20th century assaults are correct.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New MP3 player not stylish, but it does provide 125 hours of battery life on one AAA battery.

Chevy Volt won't get the new HCCI engine, at least not right away.

Nintendo Wii a Green machine.

Citigroup aims to build LEED Gold certified data center that will cut energy use by 75%, save millions of gallons of water, and not cost more than a regular facility.

I already posted this story, but the graphics are cooler here. Most people are wrong about what going Green in building construction will cost. Also they are unaware of the cost of doing nothing.

There's some new ideas on how we should determine the footprint of a building. Alex Wilson of Building Green wants the people who give out LEED certification to include the environmental cost of transportation in their parameters. A totally green building in the suburbs or out in the country will take longer to get to, and you have to drive to get there. That makes it less Green than a building in the middle of a big city where people can walk or take public transportation. It's a new idea, and a one that's a bit more complicated, but I think it's good to include in the question. We should be talking more about smart urban planning, and LEED should be involved in that if their certification is to be so valuable.

Solar powered WiFi may be boon to rural areas as well as the third world

Many new animals being added to list of endangered species in Britain. Meanwhile, President Bush has overseen the fewest number of animals being added to the list, and that's not a good thing, it means the animals that need it aren't getting the attention they deserve.

Florida looks to return glass to its birthplace. How recycling glass might lead to saving their beaches.

Sun soaked classrooms may make kids smarter. New schools being built are emphasizing natural light, as one 1999 study suggests kids who learn in direct sunlight perform 18% better on tests than kids in artificial light.

The end of grasslands? A new study suggests that increased carbon in the air may eliminate grasslands worldwide.

The US and Canada plan to bring the internet to the ocean.

A picture of the fires in Greece as viewed from space. Truly devastating to behold.

So how bad of a polluter is China? Horrible...and not that bad. This interview gives a surprising view on China and the environment.

The coming water crisis

More on why clean coal is a myth.

New advance in hyrdogen power could be boon to many applications

California experimenting with longer buses for better public transportation

In the wake of the fight between Chicago and BP, a Marathon refinery in Michigan wants to increase production, but is prepared to spend the money to make it a tiny bit greener.

GM create 8th landfill free factory. Everything that leaves the plant is either a product, or it's recycled.

Hymotion plans to expand production and make PHEV conversion a bigger option.

New Nissan Altima Hybrid to be priced at $25K

Trucking industry touting their green advances.

[ August 29, 2007, 05:30 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Smaller update today, and a correction from yesterday. The MP3 player gets 85 hours of battery life from a single AAA battery, not 125.

Telecom company sells solar charger for cell phones.

SC Johnson cuts greenhouse gases and taps landfills for power.

Breathing new life into an old idea? Fuel vaporizers can yield big increases in fuel economy, but they're unproven in mass production.

Poll finds Americans care more about gay marriage than global warming and the environment. I guess so long as we're all heterosexual when the apocalypse comes, it's all good.

Northwest passage sailing not that far away in the future

Western Carbon Initiative looks to grow, maybe even double in size. Could mean huge CO2 cap and trade system for the US.

Nissan will unveil an electric concept car at Frankfurt auto show. Looks futuristic, and has cockpit like driver's seat.

New cars will have indicator light to let you know when your tire pressure is low. Now lazy people can enjoy higher fuel economy as well.

"Who Killed the Electric Car?" is an oft heard question, but the answer isn't as easy as many people think. Now this article leaves out some questionable behavior from GM, but raises a lot of questions.

Here's an interview with Wagoner, CEO of GM with Charlie Rose. Actually it's a series of interviews, from 1999 to 2006. I haven't watched it all yet, it's 58 minutes long, but supposedly it is an interesting look at how GM has changed their stance with the changing world.

Edit to add:

Okay, the 1999 interview starts pretty much right at the beginning. He spends the first 10 minutes or so talking about the increasing rise of the global market place (and himself), as evidenced by the new merger of Daimler with Chrysler. He talks about Onstar, and how price reductions drove demand and how that led them to head towards cost reductions to increase profit. It's only maybe 20 minutes long.

Okay, the first 20 minutes of the 2002 interview is a discussion between a think tank and Charlie Rose about the Iraq War before the war started. It's fascinating to watch it now knowing what we know, so hey, go ahead and watch that too. At the 34 minute mark it starts the GM interview with Wagoner. They spend time talking about how the economy isn't as good as it used to be, then they segue into talking about light trucks and SUVs being a cash crop more or less, and about how they are ahead of the game. Wagoner doesn't see demand going anywhere, they have SUVs in short supply, and he doesn't think the economy or that gas prices will have any effect on demand. He goes on to say that GM has a lot of work to do to bring up sales and quality, and that you can't sell a bad car, you need to have a great product to begin with.

He thinks fuel cell vehicles are the cars of the future, maybe by 2020, and that hybrids will have a small potential market. Fuel cells hold "tremendous promise." They've made a lot of progress, and need another 10 years of work to make it feasible, but they've spent a ton of money on them. He said they tried electric and it doesn't look like the answer, but hybrids are too expensive, though they will have a role to play.

He also guessed that if we were to ever switch away from gas and into something non-oil, it would be for environmental reasons, not because we're running out of oil, and that every time we think we're running out, we always seem to find more, and technology advances to make it cheaper. He spends some time talking about pensions too. And he talks about healthcare, and how the big benefits were negotiated when healthcare was a lot cheaper, but being more expensive, it becomes a huge challenge. What I really liked was when he talked about how he didn't get any bonuses because GM didn't do well enough, and how he and the board talked specifically about how what sort of performance would have to be met as far as marketshare and earnings before what types of bonuses would be awarded. Very fair. The interview lasts about a half hour.

The 2006 interview lasts a full hour. I guess he got more important over the course of seven years. The tone has changed noticeably. Now they are talking about a recovery plan. Basically they made a ton of cuts, cuts to labor, healthcare, pensions, and more, that have cut $7 billion in structural costs. As of 2005, he says for just healthcare, customers pay $1500 of each car for it.

He says trends are away from truck based SUVs and more towards crossover SUVs, smaller car based ones that are more fuel efficient, and smaller cars in general. More hybrids, more diesels....and that's where I stopped listening. That gets us to the 43 minute mark (as in, 43 minutes left in the interview) and I almost fell asleep listening to the two of them chatter on. Watch the rest if you want, and post about it if you do, but you'll save a lot of time by skipping the first two and just reading my summaries. They're very boring interviews.

In closing, so I know I post a bunch of auto news in this thread that might not seem directly related to Green Energy, or at least not as much as the thread first started off as. But I think the direction of the auto industry is directly tied to the fight for efficiency and a Green world. They are massive polluters and stand to make great gains in efficiency in the coming years, which are the articles I try to point out.

[ August 30, 2007, 12:32 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Hooray for low tire pressure lights! I couldn't afford to replace a tire with a slow leak, and the fix-it can only did so much. I spent weeks just trying to guess when it was low.

I finally got one of those pressure gagues (and replaced the tire) but a light would have been nice.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
DOE offers $34 million in funding for cellulosic ethanol research

Liberal Dems in the UK calling to eliminate ALL gas cars by 2040.

New cheap nano-lubricant reduces engine friction, increases fuel economy.

Many British citizens feel the UK government is wasting money by buying Hybrids.

Young writer suggests Microsoft change their MSWord software to save paper. Small change could mean big gains.

Bush Administration wants big giveaways for coal companies. Could mean legalization of massive environmental destruction.

And this is the kind of destruction I'm talking about.

Remember a couple years ago when I said to invest in silicon? A mass shortage of silicon has led solar panel makers to find other materials.

What it takes to get oil from the ocean.

15 companies that will change the world.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Wow! Those fuel cells could be a big deal if they get the price down. And biodiesel is the good one, right? I love the digital camera with its own inkless printer built in. Even better lightbulbs, always good.

But what I really want to try is that financial software. There's always room for improvement in the budget.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Boric acid fumes are toxic. Unless there's new tech that the article isn't mentioning, ain't a good idea using it in engine lubricant.

"The problem is that by and large Americans still want those big dirty giant monstrosities. If the price of gas was a dollar a gallon, I doubt we'd be having this discussion at all."

Worse than that. Money magazine did a poll of "soccer moms" when gasoline prices had peaked after HurricaneKatrina
Asked what car they would purchase if money weren't a limiting factor, the majority chose a very large SUV; with the largest SUVs being the most popular choices.

[ August 31, 2007, 11:02 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
One would imagine they'd thought of that before announcing it as any kind of breakthrough. Besides, they say it's "made from" Boric Acid, not that it IS Boric Acid.

Ann Arbor, MI switches entire bus fleet to hybrids.

Ford creates less polluting anti-corrosive technology.

Solar power comes to the northeast, it's a small start, but it's the first time it's ventured outside the Sub Belt.

Ford turns paint fumes to energy

23% of Americans don't recycle, and for some pretty lame reasons.

More on General Motors' efforts to recycle.

Soil Erosion: How ignoring what's beneath our feet could be our undoing.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Two day's worth.

Transonic Combustion, a startup out west claims to have a 100MPG car using a state of the art fuel injection technology. No details yet, so treat it with a grain of salt.

GM award more battery contracts, this time for a LION battery for a planned Saturn VUE PHEV. Contracts are to Cobasys (who will work with A123) and Johnson Controls (who has a contract for the Dodge Sprinter).

Honda plans a Prius challenging hybrid. Small sports car inspired design will not have non-hybrid counterpart, but will be a ground up hybrid only.

First ever released satellite images of gas flaring shows in color the price of burning off natural gas from oil wells.

New sensor system will wire the Hudson River. Real time data will show 315 mile long river system through network of stationary sensors, buoys and underwater drones.

EPA finally gets around to banning toxic substances we've known to be destructive for 40 years.

Pollution reduces size of polar bears'...ahem, equipment, and hinders reproduction of the species.

Pine Beetle wreaks havoc on British Columbian trees. The devastation is yet another sign of the power of invasive species.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
eestor update. Not much new news, but there's a summaton of what we know.

NASA releases new report that says storms in the US will become stronger and deadlier as global warming gets worst, but bad for West, storms will be less frequent with more lightning strikes.

A couple things came in before I signed off for the night and I wanted to get them out of the way before the new week started.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
"Pine Beetle wreaks havoc on British Columbian trees. The devastation is yet another sign of the power of invasive species."

More the destructiveness of GlobalWarming. Those beetles would have frozen to death over the winters not too far in the past. With a small rise in temperatures, they're turning forests into kindling for forest fires.
Releasing yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I should have been more direct, I meant to include global warming in that headline, which isn't obvious of course from the man made problems involved with global warming, don't even get me started on the Great Lakes, and you can thank global warming for that on a different front. Dryness in the west is the new reality, prolonged, forever, dryness. It's that dryness that creates such perfect conditions for forest fires. Even if those trees had been alive they likely would've suffered the same fate.

Either way, global warming isn't making it easy on the forests, or much else on Earth.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
EU approves British proposal to fund 500 million Euro fusion reactor. It wil be a HiPER design reactor.

Zenn Motors makes big claims about their future eestor powered cars, but for now it's all talk.

OSU works on replacement for corn based ethanol, by using sorghum instead. I've talked about this before, but basically it requires less fertilizer, water, and pestifices than corn, and can be grown virtually anywhere in the US, while producing much higher yields.

While others work on biofuels made from prarie grass, and wild flowers.

Featured article

Toronto based company uses "swarm logic" to make energy hog devices a lot more efficient.

Check this article out, I've seen devices like this before, but they haven't gotten very far in the US yet. But this is based on Toronto, where large buildings are charged a premium when their hourly energy rate goes above a certain level. The point is that a ton of these little devices talk to each other and decide when to turn on and off to balance the energy load over the course of a day so there aren't peak times like there are now. Economically, it saves the building money, which more than pays for the devices themselves (which interestingly, the company is renting out, not selling, so the maintenance fees are non-existant). Environmentally, it's good because if as a nation we ALL used such devices, we could possibly eliminate peak energy use, and by doing so, eliminate the need for peeking plants, which are not only very expensive, but are the worst polluters of all power plants (as they are by and large coal fired plants, which can be revved up and turned down). This is yet another reason why I think we should switch over to a system that charges more for power during peak times and less at night, it'll make these types of efficiency devices seem much more attractive. And we all benefit.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Lots of stuff today, looks like there's a glut of post Labor Day entries.

Britain takes a step further to one up Michigan company in producing mini-electric cars by switching to Lithium Ion.

Madrid continues Spain's rise in the solar power biz by attracting SoCal investment. The plant being built it small, but it's the experimental technology that's important.

Premier Power Renewables starts program to more or less lease roof space for solar panels on private homes in return for fixed 20 year energy prices.

Usually I leave out these cutesy little inventions, but this one looks kind of neat. It's a small fake candle but made of real wax and features a flickering LED light instead of a wick. The cutesy part is that you turn it on and off by blowing on it.

New Jersey sees rise in number of people composting. It's an example we could all learn from.

In a bit of offbeat news, a Seattle councilman wants to make it legal for suburbanites to own small goats. Why? They are small, can mow your lawn for free, and produce milk. Somehow I don't see it catching on, but it's a nice thought.

Chinse researchers come up with formula for styrofoam that will break down in landfills.

Farm subsidies might not just be bad for your wallet, they're bad for your health too.

Why we need to update the infrastructure of our electrical infrastructure to save energy and power devices of the future.

New type of wind power uses kites.

SolarCentury is seeing big growth, based on their innovative design that incorporates solar electric and solar heating in a panel that is installed like roof shingles.

Quasi featured article on the global environmental toll the US/Chinese addiction to each other is taking.

Think the environmental problems in China stay in China? They don't. Read the article and then check out the link to the Colbert Report for an interview on the subject. It isn't just that China is polluting their rivers, leveling their old growth forests, and losing land to desertification. It isn't just that all their fish are dying, their soil is bankrupt of nutrients, or that the air quality of their major cities is deadly to breathe.

It's that their problems are our problems. It's largely American consumerism (and the rest of the world yes) that drives them to destroy their own environment (we both share the blame). But we can't just gleefully take the gains while they pay the price (though from the quality of the crap they send us, that's debateable anyway). Their problems become our problems when giant dust clouds from new desertified areas float over the Pacific and land on our shores. And they become our problem when a lack of regulation in China means they send us food with almost zero guarantee of its safety. They're burning up centuries worth of natural resources and their habitat in order to erase centuries of being behind in the world, but the cost of bringing China into the 21st century at lightspeed might not just be theirs to pay.
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
In a bit of offbeat news, a Seattle councilman wants to make it legal for suburbanites to own small goats. Why? They are small, can mow your lawn for free, and produce milk. Somehow I don't see it catching on, but it's a nice thought.

We owned goats in the suburbs. They're less good at the lawn-mowing than you'd think, preferring to eat bushes and such. Did nicely at keeping the sumac in check, though.

dkw's goat was a jerk.

That's all I have to saw about that.

Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I would think sheep or cows would do a better job on grass.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Sheep are much better at mowing lawns. Goats tend to ignore grasses when given a choice of feeding on almost anything else.
They preferentially feed on weeds in nearly a "the nastier, the tastier" manner. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that humans first began gardening the noxious* plants and shrubs now known as flowers and ornamentals as feed for their goats.

* Nearly always unpalatable, usually inedible, and often poisonous to humans.

[ September 05, 2007, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Harder to get sheep and cows classified as small pets though. [Smile] The mini-goat is already a stretch.

Here's your update for today, another big one:

The Dutch have long been famous for their extreme engineering when it comes to sea walls to keep the sea away from them. But then you have to when the majority of your nation is below sea level. Well in this article, we see that they are preparing for a time when sea walls aren't enough. Floating houses are being developed. Not house boats, they are actual houses but with hollow concrete bases and light woods. They rest on the ground, but if the flood waters come in, they rise and float, and use water proof cables so power and clean water will still make it to the house. Smart engineering from the Dutch.

Spanish freight company saves money and gains security by producing their own biofuel.

Production of eestor ultracapacitors pushed back 6 months.

Clean Air Act prohibits sale of PZEVs? (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles). Well maybe, the Clean Air Act is complicated, and it might, but it doesn't stop states from establishing higher standards like California's.

LiquidPiston, a new kind of internal combustion engine may gain 250% improvement in efficiency over current ICE. I've seen a few reinventions of the ICE over the last few months, all of which look promising, but none of which have yet come to fruition. Good luck to LP on this.

Japanese join the bandwagon of nations aiming to have space based solar power systems in the next 20 years.

GM considering leasing the battery pack for the Chevy Volt separately. What seems overly complicated, and what brings to mind the EV1 fiasco is actually pretty good for the customer when it comes to things this expensive and evolving.

"Go Before It's Gone," a list of natural wonders to see before Global Warming and mankind destroy them, soon.

Supplies of rare materials necessary for computers, nuclear and solar power could all be gone by 2020.

New estimates say arctice ice will be gone by 2030, almost 70 years earlier than some earlier projections. Northeast passage will join northwest passage in becoming navigable.

High speed Green trains in Europe challenge the air industry. They aim to be cheaper, greener and faster than planes.

Shell executive says Carbon Capture must be a global priority. Says renewables cannot replace fossil fuels fast enough.

Starting at the end of September, Staten Island buses will have the same power ambulances have: Making red lights go green. The idea is that it will make bus travel faster and car traffic slower, giving buses a leg up and increasing travel on them. It'll also save fuel by not making 10 ton buses stop so often.

Two featured articles of the day, one is just a neat blurb, the other is a big surprise for who gets the money when you buy food:

MO Congressman introduces and passes law in the House of Reps that makes it illegal for members of Congress to use taxpayer money to lease cars that pollute.

Although it went largely unnoticed in the broader tussle over the energy bill, an amendment authored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver — that was approved right before the Congress' summer recess by a 218-196 vote — would allow congressmen to only lease eco-friendly cars. The Missouri Democrat estimates that the new provision will only affect about 100 of his colleagues — those who have been spending upwards of $1 million in taxpayer money every year to lease ginormous, gas-guzzling luxury cars. Cleaver himself leases a big van retrofitted to run on used cooking oil.
The law fails to name any real specifics on the measure, but I like the idea.


1/3 -- the number out of all US farms that are actually within metropolitan areas, approximately (more than you thought, wasn't it?), representing 18% of the total farmland in this country, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In the same vein, only 3.5 cents of every dollar goes to the farmer when food is purchased at the grocery store, according to the Sustain AgriFood Network versus the 80 to 90 cents on the dollar that goes to the farmer when food is purchased at a farmer's market.

Sources: EPA & Sustain AgriFood Network

Some freaky numbers there. The cost disparity, other than people taking their share of the profits along the way, probably has a lot to do with the massive cost, in money and pollution, of trucking and shipping food from all the corners of the country to all the other corners. Buying local is better for farmers, better for you, and better for the environment. Check to see if there is a farmer's market in your area.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
"dkw's goat was a jerk.
That's all I have to saw about that.

Not that mysterious considering the shape your jet was in.

[ September 06, 2007, 03:44 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
This is going to be a big one because I missed it yesterday. I cut myself at work yesterday (stupid green peppers) and had to make a not so quick trip to the hospital, and it took a long time. So I might break this into two parts with some featured articles.

John Deere and farmers partner up to make wind farms into a cash crop. Farmers front a small amount of money and get big long term rewards.

Mexico has big goals for renewables, but it's not as green as you might think

A dual use water saver for the people: Bucket that doubles as sink allows you to easily reuse greywater.

Volvo enters the PHEV arena with concept car at the Frankfurt show

Solar startup BrightSource has filed for permission to build a 400MW solar power plant. It's not a PV plant, it'll use focusing mirrors and steam engines, also called a Sterling.

The designer of many high end cars will enter the next gen hybrid arena. Considered to be a challenger to Tesla in the start up arena.

Featured Article on Coke
Coca-Cola unveils new plan to recycle or reuse ALL of its US consumed plastic bottles, up from 10% now. They've also unveiled a bottle that uses 5% less plastic. It's an ambitious goal to say the least, and their commitment isn't just lip service, they've devoted $60 million to a new facility for recycling that will be the largest of its kind, and will create 100 million pounds of reusable plastic a year when it's done. Admirable.

UK Businesses have cut enough carbon since 2001 to equal the carbon of two major cities.

GM considering weekly battery payments for Volt. I have to say, this is getting out of hand. Volt owners would have to buy gas for the "range extender," pay the electric bill for the battery, pay for the car payment and a weekly battery bill? That's just goofy, and cumbersome beyond reason. Keeping the battery payments separate is an interesting idea, one that for a battery as expensive and experimental as that might keep the Volt aloft until the batteries get cheaper and the kinks are all worked out, but weekly payments are silly I think.

Offshore wind power, far offshore, outside the vision of coastal residents, will one day be king. There's vastly more wind power potential out there, and tons of space too, but it's not without risk.

Feature on Geothermal

The Geothermal Revolution

That's the talking points and here's another story on investment and potential, but this is the meat:

Study on US Geothermal

It's a pretty good report. It summarizes the types of Geothermal, the costs, the electrical generation capacity, how much it costs per kwh, etc. It's a great summation, overview and advocate. I'll break it down in case you want to go to a specific page, but don't worry, it's not dry, it's in the form of a powerpoint presentation, so it's bullet points and pictures.

Pg. 4 - Key Findings, mostly Western states stand to make huge gains from geothermal. What the industry needs in cost and equipment over the next few years.

Pg. 6 - Kinds of Geothermal power, and future experimental methods of power generation.

Pg. 7 - Cost of production per kwh vs other renewables and cost of installed capacity.
Result? Geothermal is extremely competitive.

Pg. 9 - Land use and tech maturity vs. other renewables. Result? It uses small amounts of land and is a very mature technology, with even more room for growth.

Pg. 10 - Key advantages, including that it can run 24 hours a day, among others.

Pg. 11 - Starts a three day global geothermal overview. Big potential.

Pg 15. - Breaks down US electrical generation, then goes over geothermal, and a state by state analysis current production of geothermal in the western states.

Pg. 30 - Breaks down the potential for Geothermal production in western states. It's an extremely well detailed breakdown on a state by state basis.

Pgs. 48-50 - Talk about the necessary investment and why, and where money should be and will be spent.

The study is very thorough and a great, somewhat quick read for someone looking to be informed on geothermal's current power and potential for the near and long term future. This is mostly for the western states, where there is enormous potential, but this study doesn't address the details of or the potential of EGS, which is the next generation of geothermal power. It could, potentially, dramatically increase the power in the west, and even create power in the east on a big scale too.

I would have liked to see some of the risks explored, but current direct use geothermal is safe, clean, and reliable. It's EGS that has potential problems that need to be studied further, but I guess that's for another report.

[ September 08, 2007, 04:30 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Tristan (Member # 1670) on :
Your Volvo link goes to the same page as the preceding graywater thingy. Just saying [Smile] .
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Thanks Tristan! I fixed the link if you want to go back and see it.

Here's the second half:

Okay, it's just a cute little game with a polar bear. But several Green sites I've been to say it's a good way to break the ice with your young ones about global warming. The game is about a cute little polar bear who has to refreeze rain into ice to protect his environment.

Sacramento aims to be Greenest city in America, and by the numbers they are on their way.

Little steps and so far to go, how coal quickly destroys all the progress we make

New solar bottle purifier could be cheap, green way to bring clean water to the third world

Hurricane Felix provides more proof that forests and coastal mangroves, along with natural barrier islands that nature has its own defense against Hurricanes. So long as we don't screw it up.

I don't post as many cycling articles as I probably should, but there's a tiny, quiet little war going on out there between cyclists and, well, seemingly everyone else. Maybe for my September editorial I'll go back and search out some of these articles to give a better background, but the gist is this: Lawmakers around the country, and in Europe to a certain extent, though not as much, don't give cyclists a fair shake. According to the law, so far as I know, bikes are allowed on most roads (maybe all?) and are to be treated as any other vehicle, including following the same rules that they do. But at the same time, cyclists get killed at an alarming rate because of careless drivers. And they aren't given, in my mind, the kind of infrastructure to travel on that they deserve. There's a lot more to it than that, but here's the latest in the war:

In Beverly Hills a cyclist was almost killed by an SUV driver, who proceeded to follow him (gender neutral, I don't know the sex of the cyclist) around the corner and call the police, saying the cyclist shouldn't be there in the first place. The police arrived, verbally abused the cyclist and ended up writing him a ticket, letting the motorist go. The story, and the complaint letter written by the cyclist are in the link, and I think it's good reading, and a great example of why cycling isn't as prevelant as it chould or should be (oh, and the cyclist was right, and the SUV driver is seriously, seriously, in the wrong).

Amazon leaps into the e-book world. It looks like something out of the 1980's, but could be the first step to moving away from paper books. I admit a negative bias here, I love books. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books. I love organzing my books over and over, chronologically, alphabetically, by subject, by date of publication, and I rarely loan them out for fear someone might dogear a page or crack the spine. I'm a bibliophile, and in my Green heart, I know that cutting down trees to make books is bad, but I love them so. It's good that so many of them are made with recycled paper, but the overall loss of trees needs to be stopped. Green wins in the end.

Perhaps my last BP Lake Michigan entry. After emailing both my senators, I received a reply from both that BP had given up their plan to put more waste into Lake Michigan. This link to TreeHugger (apparently unaware of the win) shows that for relatively low cost, BP could expand the waste water treatment plant at the site.

Pictures of the Bahrain World Trade Center, the first commercial building in the world to have massive wind turbines attached to the building itself for power generation. Truly stunning.

A massive (40 ton) second generation wave power buoy generator has been placed off the coast of Oregon. Wave and tidal power are the babies of the Green power movement, and this is a great step towards bringing the technology further.

Ford helps pay for particulate filters in diesel cars in Germany

Mitsubishi also puts forward a PHEV concept car.

Solar panels to be installed on schools in more than 20 counties in Florida. Allows schools to not have to buy power during peak periods for energy hogs.

California may change regulations to help reduce emissions and energy use from commercial buildings by changing a simple regulation. In other words, people finally have to pay their fair share.

Green building and construction. I'll let you read these at your leisure, but it's an 18 part, and still growing, series on how to build a Green home from green materials that maximizes efficiency, from something simple like using hinged windows that provide a better seal vs. track slide windows. There's links at the bottom of this page that will take you to the others.

And finally, the military is really getting serious about Green...weapons. Maybe not the best use for Green power, but what the hell, the military loves the Green movement. And why shouldn't they? In places like Iraq and elsewhere, wind and solar can provide instant power plants for bases and some power for parts of cities where the enemy has cut off the power plants. Electric powered vehicles, even hybrid tanks, create less of a heat profile and almost make a tank into a stealth vehicle with less engine noise. The military is eyeballing the Green movement for these types of advances, and they're even looking at bio jet fuel. Thus far, they've actually been stymied by the Bush Administration, if you can believe that. When it comes to Green power for the military, Pres. Bush actually isn't listening to his commanders on the ground. But believe it or not, the Green movement won't just make us safer from an energy independence point of view, in the future there'll be more of the Army that's green than just their camo.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Feature on electric cars next Sunday morning on the CBS Morning Show

EV1 makes TIME's list of top 50 worst cars ever.

New York Institute of Technology's entry into the solar decathalon.

Coal Forever? The coal industry wants the government to help them find more ways to make use of federal lands with coal.

Super grass grows in the sun, and in the shade, in fresh loam and in infertile soil, and requires no rain to thrive.

Why nature has a beef with us, or, how America's hunger for imported beef is killing the rain forest.

New 1kw mini wind turbine for use in your back yard is quiet, not bad looking, safe, but a little expensive. It's really not bad looking, but at $4,000 the price tag is a little hefty. At 10 cents per kwh, it would take 20 years to return the investment. Such a device would make sense if built on a brand new property, but that's one heck of a long term investment. I've seen cheaper designs for wind turbines that mount on rooftops, and though they produce less power, they're much cheaper and even less intrusive. Still, if they could bring the price down, this could be yet another great innovation for microgeneration.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I'm not a fan of grass; I don't think the amount of water it needs justifies its uniform look. But a waterless grass that can take full sun is a brilliant idea for those into that sort of thing.

Now if we can just convince the retirees that they don't have to cut down all the trees on their property to keep the grass nice and not have to rake. It's Florida. It happens for a couple weeks and then we're right back to summer again. Run the leaves over with the mover - you'll be fine. </rant>
Posted by The White Whale (Member # 6594) on :
The EV1 making the top 50 worst car ever list surprises me. The only experience I've had with them is through the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and I got the impression that many people liked them.

Did anyone here have one or ride in one? Was it good? Was it one of the worst cars ever?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I think there are a lot of reasons it made the list. The batteries used were volatile, and expensive. All the materials in the car for that matter were horribly expensive, and it didn't go very far on a single charge, especially given the type of performance we expect. It was small, it had a paper thin shell which I can't imagine most people would feel safe driving in with all those SUVs out on the road.

It was a good idea that didn't have the technology to back it up, and while it may forever be remembered as the father of the electric car, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It would only have ever sold to a small, niche market, and I don't think GM would have made a profit off it from the expense of making the car. Battery technology just wasn't up to the task in the 90's. We question whether or not it's up to it now.

Personally I have no opinion on whether it was a great car or not, but I know that it wasn't a silver bullet that GM killed for the hell of it. It had real, serious issues.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
and yet Honda doesn't have a true hybrid, only modified Civics and Accords. Only the Prius was designed from the ground up to be a hybrid, and it'll be joined in the next few years by other such designed cars, as well as dozens of "afterthought" hybrids.
I was catching up on the thread, and Honda Civic Hybrids are just that. The last thing you want is to split up green-conscious folks into smaller groups ("real" hybrids vs. "fake" hybrids).

I know it was a throwaway comment and all, but it's still dumb. Neither design is fully capable without its ICE. Even with the plug-in tech.


[ September 09, 2007, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: Bokonon ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I agree with you. My point with that comment was that aspectre shouldn't bash GM for something everyone else is doing, with the exception of a single car company with a single car.

New turbulence mapping system saves fuel on airplanes.

Clean coal still pie in the sky.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
A couple of articles on biofuels:

Article on use of jatropha to obtain oil for biodeisal. No analysis on net energy yield, but it can be grown with food crops.

Article on efforts in Virginia to get a switchgrass industry up and running. One of the potential benefits is that it's suitable for tobacco land, which apparently is hard to make viable for other crops. The biggest need cited is a refining capability - the process is still not ready for commerce. When it is, local refineries should help net energy yield.
Posted by orlox (Member # 2392) on :
10,000 posts! Congrats Lyrhawn. I add my thanks for the great posts and all your effort!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Dag -

Great articles. I know that switchgrass holds a lot of promise, though I think it's dependent on the next generation of cellulosic ethanol techniques to make it feasible, and I've heard a lot of promising news on that front recently. I'm glad to see Virginia is taking advantage of the here and now advantages, at the very least is top soil retention, instead of waiting for the technology to come through, they can at least make sure the ground is ready when it comes time.

And also a good article on jatropha. That's the first I've ever heard of it, and I'd be fascinated to read what sort of energy yield per acre it has, to see if it is really superior to other potential crops. I'll do some hunting and if I find anything I'll post it. Thanks for keeping your eye out.

Orlox -

Thanks, I'm really proud of this thread especially. And I'm glad that people slog through all the links day after day and keep themselves updated on the newest happenings, and even from time to time find and add their own links. You guys rock. [Smile]

Everyone else, your daily update -

Hydraulic hybrids may be more efficient than electric.

Prius sales still strong, but August say a big dip in hybrid sales. Analysts blame falling gas prices.

Devastating ice loss in Greenland triggers earthquakes.

UNEP uses solar power in rural India to bring light to the darkness. Much of India is still outside the power grid, and by using local microgeneration, they've brought a few hours of light each night to 100,000 Indians. And it's surprisingly cost effective.

Awwwwwwwwwwww (just look, it's your feel good link for the day).

Fisherman and miners fight over Bristol Bay.

EPA fails to listen to its own scientists, and puts the health of Americans at risk, yet again. This is getting ridiculous.

New method patented for turning algae into oil...this could dovetail nicely with new technologies that grow algae via CO2 capture.

Salt water a potential fuel source? Maybe. A cancer researcher found a way to extract and burn hydrogen from salt water using radio waves. What needs to be looked at next is what the energy exchange is, or, do the radio waves use more power than the hydrogen produces.

First sustainable tuna fishery certified. About time, if any food production industry needs sustainability it's the fishing industry, or we may suffer a future with few choices for fish.

Potentially great news about using low frequency electromagnetic waves on ethanol crops can increase yield by almost 20% Brazilian researchers made the discovery, which is no surprise with them being the OPEC of biofuels.

Senator Bond slams Lieberman/Warner climate change bill. A little discussion on this one is warranted, which is why I saved it for last.

To be honest, this is the first I've heard of this bill. It's damned strong too, calling for a whopping 70% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050. Now I haven't seen the bill, so I don't know which gases are covered, and I don't know if they mean 1990 levels, as are so often aimed for, or if they mean current 2007 levels. Regardless it's impressive. 2050 is often called looked at as the big date by many climate scientists as being the year we have to have these sorts of changes in place by in order to halt or reverse climate change before irreperable damage is done.

Economist Sir Nicholas Stern has said that taking no action to stop climate change could mean a 20% hit to our GDP from climate change related problems, but if we change the way we do things now, that could be dramatically reduced to 1%. I have to wonder about that claim, and I'd love to see the formula he uses to come up with those numbers, but given the unknowns involved, I find it a bit hard to swallow without knowing specifics.

Now Bond has specific, and perfectly reasonable concerns:

Bond said his criticisms were specific. For instance, his letter states that businesses would be threatened because of duplicative state and regional carbon control programs and that low-income families would be harmed by higher energy costs.

Bond said he will fight to ensure that climate legislation does not disproportionately hurt those who struggle to pay their energy bills.

From News-Leader

Okay, I can see his concern on the working poor and energy costs. If we use more renewables, the cost for a kwh of power is likely to rise, at least in the near term, but I think by 2050 that argument holds a lot less weight. Costs are already plummeting, and this target date is four decades away. But if that were really a serious concern, I think the government should consider

A. Some sort of energy tax on regular homeowners and renters. Energy hogs could pay slightly more and the balance could be transferred to the people who use less, allowing the poor to keep their bills lower, and incentivizing reduced use. This is perfectly fair. If we expect businesses to pay for their excesses and wastes, why wouldn't we expect regular people to use less energy and create less waste themselves? It's monstrous homes and wasteful products, and simple things like leaving computers and lights on that can and should be turned off. When you attack the wallet, people get smart about things they usually don't think much about.

B. A system of loans for the poor (and everyone really) to make energy efficiency improvements to their home, including renovation for better windows, solar heating, better insulation, more efficient energy using products in the home like instant water heaters, energy star products, and CFLs, and money to install either small home wind turbines or solar panels. This is something that is currently being done by private industry, where I think it should be, but if there is to be a focus on the poor, it would have to include especially low interest rates, or the cost savings are non-existant.

So that should protect the poor from high energy costs, so what about his assertions that this will kill the economy? Well, to be blunt: It's crap. Cap and trade systems are already underway in Europe, they are being planned regionally in the West, and there's already a market for them in Chicago. Many, MANY groups way ahead of a carbon cap are already reducing their emissions and making products more sustainably, and you know what? The majority of them have found that more efficient production SAVES THEM MONEY! I've said it a million times but going green MAKES green, as in cash. A cap and trade system will incentivize the kinds of changes that will not only make businesses leaner and more competitive, but will earn them money from emissions credits. It's win/win for the people who aren't stuck in 20th century mindsets. Bond is wrong, and I think industry even thinks that. They are making all these changes without the legislation in place for two reasons I think:

A. They know that such legislation is coming, and frankly I think Congressional ambivalence has been hampering their long term planning.

B. They realize that if they make the changes to using less waste, reusing what waste they have, and even producing their own power, they waste less money, and it makes them greener as well as more competitive in the marketplace.

If a national standard is adopted that as strong as or stronger than the regional ones, then I don't think there will be a problem melding them all together. The only reason you have these regional partnerships cropping up is because states are sick and tired of Congressional inaction, and they are taking matters into their own hands. When Congress finally gets around to acting, the states I think will gladly give way, so long as Congress is serious about it.

I'll look for and try to get you all more information on the details of the bill.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Regarding Lyrhawn's link about clean coal: I'm currently working on mercury capture technology for SaskPower. I'm not quite sure how much I can say here, having signed a nondisclosure agreement, but the article makes it appear that Sask has dropped coal intirely, which certainly isn't the case.

CO2 sequestration may indeed be pie in the sky, but "SO2, NOX, mercury and particulate control and capture mechanisms" are quite doable, and since coal is so dirty in the first place, there's a lot of room for clean up.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I was under the impression that they hadn't dropped coal, but that they had dropped the prototype coal plant because of skyrocketing cost increases, and planned to build more traditional coal plants instead.

I shouldn't have said pie in the sky for Carbon capture. Carbon capture is already in use in Canada to make oil fields productive again, though the infrastructure involved causes its own problems, but it's still economically and technologically feasible, we think, for the moment.

And there is more work being done on sequestering it in algae farms or in porous rock by capturing it before it escapes, or even using the captures CO2 as more fuel, but thus far they are far from proven technologies, and by and large they aren't economically feasible on a massive scale.

Capturing SO2, NOX, mercury and particulates would be done through stack filters no? I've heard about a lot of advances recently that dramatically improve capture of these emissions at the stacks before they escape, and do it in a cost effective means. Sadly the EPA has recently allowed many coal plants to increase production without updating their clean up measures, as the Clean Air Act I believe mandates.

Still, every little bit helps until we can replace coal entirely.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Lyr, my problem with offsetting the cost is that folks already pay for the number of kwh they use. (Except here in Tally where instead of raising our cost per kwh they upped the number of kwhs they bill us. But it's a city utility, so there's no one to complain to except the city. Most utilities should work differently.)

The other is that the bulk of the poor rent. So we need programs to entice landlords to make their apartments energy efficient. I'd think a rating system of apartments and a campaign to tell folks how much a rating will save them on their electric bills might work.

It would here, anyway. We use nothing but natural gas to produce the city's power. My 750 sq ft apartment cost me $213 last month. We've got the thermostat at 75, but only because it's not right and only sets the temp to 72, 75, or 80. There is no 78 to choose from. And I'm not shelling out the cash to do anything about it. Hence, the need to encourage landlords to do so.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I posted an article a couple days ago about using individual meters for apartment complexes so people would pay for precisely the energy they use, which returns a big element of control to how much they spend on their power bills.

In complexes where the landlords themselves are paying the electric bill, there's clearly an incentive already in place for them to upgrade to reduce usage, but a great many places make the tenents pay for their own utilities, therefore making any incentive to the landlords useless.

But I agree in that it makes little sense for renters to have to pay to upgrade their apartments when they'll never be able to take those upgrades with them. But in order to do that, you have to carrot and stick the landlords, threatening them with a direct energy tax to them (that can't be passed on to the renters) and then in the other hand offer them a way to reduce their own energy use in a cost effective way. I'm curious as to how you do that without passing the cost on to the renters anyway.

But anyway, my original suggestion was that any such extra tax on energy would be progressive, just like taxes are right now. But you can't base it off how much money they make, it wouldn't be fair. It'd be silly to tell a middle income homeowner that no matter how many improvements they make to their home, they make too much money for those improvements to matter. The idea needs to be efficiency and reduction in use. Therefore, the people who use the most energy pay the most. I think this also has to be coupled with a two-level system for charging, in that night time power is cheaper than day time power, to encourage people to use what appliances that can wait, at night, and whatever else, and to encourage them to be more careful in what they leave on during the day.

I don't think the changes or problems are going to be as drastic as naysayers make it out to be. But I think the biggest thing that will happen is people will take a look at their energy bill and a lot of them will be moved by their wallets enough to make a lot of simple changes, and even big changes, that will mean money savings and energy savings for them and for the nation. Right now too many people don't care because energy is too cheap. It's why when gas is cheap everyone buys SUVs, but when it hits $3.50 a gallon hybrid sales explode. By and large the majority of people don't personally act on things they pay lip service to until it really hits home, then they are moved to act for their own sakes.

These changes won't bash them over the head, it's more like poking them with a stick, prodding them to action in a safe way that won't ruin anyone, it'll just get them to take action they wouldn't have taken without the stick. Besides, the majority of the country agrees that we need to change the way we live, why is it too much to ask they actually do something about it? In America we get more than half our power the same way we got it in the 19th century. Well now it's time to get to the 21st century, and it's not going to be fast and easy, but it's also not going to be unbearably painful.

The other is that the bulk of the poor rent. So we need programs to entice landlords to make their apartments energy efficient. I'd think a rating system of apartments and a campaign to tell folks how much a rating will save them on their electric bills might work.
I reread that paragraph again and I think that's a great idea. We already have the beginnings of a standard in place with LEED certified buildings. There's no reason why residential buildings like apartment complexes can't operate almost in the same way that we're going to demand businesses operate with CO2 credits and offsets. If your building is LEED Platinum certified, you get credits to sell to apartment complexes that aren't, which gives them the incentive to take up the offer for loans to make energy improvements to the building. It's less a punishment and again, more a stick gently prodding them to action. I have to echo my twice mentioned earlier comment though, and wonder how renters would be protected from hikes in their rent if we tried something like that. I'm not really sure how lease agreements work when you're renting, do you basically sign a contract saying what your rent will be for a prescribed amount of time and the landlord can't raise it? If so, then I guess this works out fine until you have to sign your next lease agreement. Any ideas?
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Capturing SO2, NOX, mercury and particulates would be done through stack filters no?
In simple terms, sort of, except for NOx, which is reduced in the flame by staging combustion. Initially the fuel is burned without enough oxygen to complete combustion, and then the partially combusted products are introduced to a second source of oxidant, blended with flue gases to prevent the flame from becoming too hot. Oxy-fuel combustion further reduces NOx by eliminating nitrogen from the equation altogether.

Mercury capture involves injecting sorbent material into the flue, where it flows into the baghouse and is held with the rest of the filtered (particulate) material. There it continues to collect mercury until it's saturated, or until the filter bags are emptied. Particulate (and absorbed mercury) is then landfilled.

SOx is reduced by spraying a lime-water solution into the flue. This is called "scrubbing." The lime reacts with the SO2 and produces gypsum. The gypsum slurry is separated from the flue stream and is usually pumped next door to a wallboard plant. Your house may be made out of industrial waste.

Oxy-coal is also being looked at for CO2 sequestration since there is no nitrogen in the flue gas, you mostly just have water and CO2 left, so condensing the water leaves you with a very high concentration of CO2.
Posted by lem (Member # 6914) on :
I just read this today and thought of this most excellent thread.

There may be hope for radio frequencies to burn salt water as a fuel!

John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.
The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.

The discovery is "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years," Roy said.

The scientists want to find out whether the energy output from the burning hydrogen — which reached a heat of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — would be enough to power a car or other heavy machinery.

Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
An important item in Green Energy News:

Estes Model Rockets now uses hydrogen fuel
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for the day:

Remember when I was talking about wiring the Hudson with sensors? Well this is what the unmanned drones will look like. Solar powered underwater drones.

Oil supertanker from Japan has hybrid electric powerplant.

I already posted this development before, but this article has more information on cheap solar power plant systems, and current and future products going on in the southwest that are measured in gigawattts.

Office supply chains get good grades on sustainability, and making great strides to increase use of recycled materials and better forest management.

Looking to green your portfolio? Criterion has launched Canada's first all alternative energy investment option.

The H2O crunch is coming, maybe sooner than you think. Here are some simple ways to reduce your water usage.

Spend less time with your cell phone and more time going for a jog, or, how our wired world is hurting our health.

Philly wants to be the first major metropolitan city to grow most of their own food, using empty lots and buildings in the city. This is happening in a lot of cities, and I know first hand that it's doing good things for Detroit.

Microwind generation is a win for everyone involved in this distribution center projects.

A visual, hands on approach to keeping melting icebergs in the front of your mind.

I don't care what anyone says, I still think luxury water is ridiculous beyond measure.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Okay, probably a big set of articles today:

Greener, better looking cell phone towers.

Norwegian greenhouse gas detectors are amazingly precise, can tell you where the pollution came from.

Iowa State University looking into the sustainability of getting our energy from crops.

Tesla and PG&E are getting together on developing a smart energy grid.

Laptop battery running low, I'll finish later...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
...okay here's the rest.

Okay, the only thing I'm really looking forward to here is the refridgerator that you can see inside without opening the door. Assuming the power used to project the image isn't more than used to open the door, it's a good development.

Good time to be a boy in the arctic? Man made chemicals causing a 2:1 ratio of boys to girls. And the problem might not just be in the arctic.

Co-Op housing in Toronto goes green, and looks better too.

Greener parking lots.

Why starting small matters in saving the environment.

Three featured articles!

Some good news! The ozone layer is healing!

Court rules against automakers, say states are allowed to set own emissions standards (or at least match California's).

EPA has new fuel economy stickers for cars. I really like the look of these. They tell you up front that your mileage may vary, they use the new testing standards, they tell you how much you can expect to pay for fuel in a year, and they tell you how your car measures up to others in the same class.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
The fact that automakers even challenge the California standards is one of the many reasons that I believe that executives and stockholders want to continue building overweight highly-polluting over-powered fuel-guzzling hunks of junk. And their "attempt"s to build better vehicles are merely a facade to generate excuse to whine "We can't..." at Congress.

The new EPA mileage testing standards make an interesting read.
HTML without graphics and the more informative PDF with graphics
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Of course they want to keep building those, they still continue to sell well, even with oil at $80 a barrel.

But it's not stopping them from building PZEVs, PHEVs, Hybrids, and other environmentally friendly vehicles.

Besides, they know Congress won't listen this time.

Pending court cases against polluters, most are likely to fail, but the small ones might be the most imporant anyway.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Double update today. I'll get the old ones out of the way and do the rest later:

Better displays lower the amount of energy you use. (And they look nicer!)

For cities near the water, piers are coming back in style, and they are more stylish than ever, and more environmentally friendly as well.

In many cities, parking spaces outnumber the number of cars that city has 3:1.

Tiny island nation of Tuvalu may be the first conquest of global warming. It's sinking beneath the waves as we speak. Burma faces the same fate.

If Honda can get the home fuel station working, they may sell a small amount of Fuel Cell cars in 2008.

Mexico gets series about trees. Plan to plant 250 million by year's end, and they might actually do it.

Use anarchy to decrease traffic accidents? Germany and Holland have tried installing new roundabouts without signs or traffic signals, and surprisingly, they actually reduce accidents as people pay more attention.

Canada launches next phase in their biofuels plan.

Here's another article on Sask and their power plans. The article is a bit more in depth, and does a little cost comparison to renewables.

Comments from both sides in the fight in Vermont over emissions standards.

Madison, WI takes delivery of more two-mode hybrid busses from GM.

Expect Saturn VUE PHEV in 2009..ish.

Google is looking to spend more green on Green. They are soliciting proposals from EV startups for investment opportunities.

American Electric Power spends big bucks to install mega batteries at wind farms. Batteries like this, while expensive, make wind power a lot more reliable. I haven't seen something like this done yet. It's very, very expensive. I have seen other ideas, like using wind power to compress air that could later be used to power a turbine elsewhere and provide power on demand. And I've seen it suggested that used LIOD car batteries could be used when PHEVs take off, used in giant banks, could store a lot of energy. For the moment, I wonder how cost effective they think this is.

Featured article

Florida's Solarsa nets small savings in money for companies, but could be great for getting businesses off the grid.

A Florida-based company called Solarsa has just launched one of the first pre-assembled solar cooling systems targeted specifically for commercial businesses. Its Energy Independence System 005 (EIS005) can also heat water and allows restaurants to recycle waste cooking oil. Scott Jergensen, its president, described the system as a "series of mirrors" that is "reflecting the sun into a series of collectors and is giving us electricity and hot water at the same time."

The unit - which is installed at no cost (businesses just pay for the energy they use) and can produce up to 4-MW of energy - would only save customers $1000 on average, Jorgensen concedes, but he argues that it could mean hundreds of thousands in savings down the line for large chain restaurants. He claims that its reduced operating and maintenance costs make it a viable alternative to natural gas and electricity over the long-term.

This is the kind of thing I'd love to see take off everywhere. It's small savings, so they aren't going to make a ton of money off it, but who cares? Savings are savings, and better yet, they have no big maintenance or installation fees, that is done by the new provider, they just sign up and enjoy the savings, while the company makes money too. The savings, by going off the grid, ripple in more ways than just money. The cooking oil being saved helps the environment, and reduces load demand from the grid, which eventually could mean peaking plants no longer need to run, more big environmental and monetary savings.

Microgeneration is a key solution to solving our problems.

PS. Neither here nor there, but you can go to the Farm Aid website and watch the concert for the next week or so. That link may open up to Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, that's who I was watching.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
This brings me up to date, but you aren't getting as much as you could have had because IE died and killed the whole post just as I was getting ready to send it. Save your Firefox posts, I'm not in the mood. [Mad] I still gave good explanations for most of them, I just didn't expand on them like I did before, so you have to do more of the reading yourself today [Smile] .

Why Corn ethanol is bad, especially if you aren't in the midwest (it's wasteful)

Chicago spending millions on hybrids for vehicle fleet.

GM builds giant solar array at plant to provide half their power.

Megacorporations explain to consumers how they will reduce their carbon footprint at new convention

Frankfurt Auto Show dominated by Green vehicles in opening weekend

Toyota and UC Berkley come together to design more sustainable cities.

Illinois becomes second state to mandate Green cleaning products.

There's a lot more behind this story, but the gist is that Ford has released a new line of ultra low CO2 cars in Europe, where people actually want to buy these things.

Election time in Canada means big promises, but not a lot of action. Either way, I'm not super impressed by the Hydrogen Train. Hydrogen is a way to store energy, not produce it. Unless it's a solar or wind powered train, I'm not impressed.

The Solar Alliance has been founded by big players in the solar industry, including everyone from startups to big players like BP. It's part advocacy group and part special interest really, but at least it's good for solar, and that's good for us.

Leave the grid out of it, with a little bit of time you can power your own electronic devices.

Philly breaks Green records (for car sharing).

UK company working on giant battery to store power from non-constant renewable sources.

Seeing is believing, the Northwest Passage is free of ice: (Picture inside).

International group of scientists plan to experiment with turning the sea into a giant carbon sink next year. I have reservations about playing around with ocean life like that, but we'll see what happens.

Alabama joins growing list of states clamoring for a pipeline to pipe in water from the Great Lakes to drought stricken states. I don't mean to be greedy, but no. As a Great Lakes State native, I'd have to say that is utterly ridiculous. Ya'll have been draining your natural aquifers through horrible water resource management for decades, not to mention living in drought prone areas is as goofy as living in hurricane prone areas. Everyone down there can't keep expecting or settling for everyone else solving their problems because they live in areas that aren't easily habitable. Sometimes I don't like winter, maybe we should build a pipeline to send the heat from down there up here in the middle of February. You need to develop better water usage techniques, maybe it means farming in the south won't be what it once was. Either way, some lakes in the Great Lakes are already at or near historic lows, and this is a long term natural resource, we're not doling it out like candy because hydrologically challenged areas have been irresponsible. Find another way out, or move.

I think a key point in the article Treehugger links to is this:

Although there's no deadline for passing the compact, Sayers said 2011 will be a critical year because of a political power shift based on population changes from the U.S. Census in 2010.

"In 2011, what is likely to happen is the water-thirsty states like Florida, New Mexico, Arizona or … Nevada, would gain seats in Congress and these Great Lakes states are likely to lose them," said Sayers. "And if, as a region, we haven't taken control of our water resources by then, the federal government will."

He's right, in 2010 the Great Lakes basin will lose probably 10 House seats, and most of those will go to the South and Southwest especially as populations shift. The fear is that if there is no control of the Great Lakes by the states by then, the increased power out west will lead the national Congress to more or less seize control of the water. At the very least I would expect Canada to throw an international hissy fit over this.

Okay I changed my mind halfway through, these last few articles are just too good to bury, I don't care if it is a friday and that this post has taken me an hour to put together, this is good stuff!

Your featured articles

Wireless device tells you how much energy your home uses in real time and then translates that into $$. The value of this product should be easy for anyone to see. It'll literally be able to tell you how much it costs you an hour to turn on a lamp. It's wireless, so you can take it with you anywhere in the house, and will be able to easily help you streamline your energy use. Might even make turning off a light in a room you aren't using a fun game!

Further, I think something like this could easily be paired with new meters that are more accurate and price fixing that makes night time energy cheaper and daytime more expensive. If you can EASILY see how much money you'd say by using night energy, I think it'd be easier for regular people to wrap their heads around the idea.


US sewers ready to burst...

Infrastructure is something I've talked about a lot in this and other threads. The US hasn't been spending much on the simple things that make nations work, like power lines, sewer lines and roads. Our national infrastructure is 100 years old, and we need more than a TRILLION dollars to get it all back up to snuff, but so far we've just brushed it under the covers. Flood inducing rains in many places like the Great Lakes and the Midwest will only get worse as Global Climate Change rears its ugly head. I fear we won't act to fix this problem until we're literally walking about in pools of our own...well, you get the idea. We saw what happened when the sewers imploded in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina, and that wasn't just because of topography and a storm.

It's just another sign of the times. Americans don't want to pay for things like that, we expect the lights to turn on tomorrow the same way they did yesterday. We want instant gratification, and care little for details. We want the status quo, and refuse change for fear it might be expensive, or worse, that we might have to change our lives for it! God forbid. We're in for a rude awakening some day.

This is a series of movies that I haven't watched yet, but will do in a moment and come back to comment on. They're videos on how beneficial a V2G (Vehicle to Grid) energy grid could monetarily benefit electric and PHEV car owners.


Here's the big one!

Okay, any long time visitor to this thread will probably remember the little debate between Tatiana and myself over whether or not renewables are good at macrogeneration. At the time, I gave examples of plans to build many large scale plants, though I was a much bigger proponent of the microgenerating capacities of wind and solar. She said solar just can't power a city, you need big boy power plants for that.

Well (and not to sound cofrontational, but), is this big boy enough for you?

California would become the Saudi Arabia of solar energy if a slew of large-scale solar power plants proposed for the sun-drenched Mojave Desert are built. The federal Bureau of Land Management has received right-of-way requests on 300,000 acres for 34 Big Solar power stations that would generate more than 24 gigawatts of green energy. That disclosure was made in a development application that BrightSource Energy has filed with the California Energy Commission to build a 400-megawatt solar power station complex in the Mojave just across from the Nevada. It's unlikely, though, that anywhere close to that number of solar power plants will be built in the near future. Still, it's an indication of the land rush that's on as solar entrepreneurs start to lock up the best sites. So far, Southern California Edison (EIX) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE) have contracted for up to 1.75 gigawatts with Stirling Energy Systems of Phoenix. PG&E (PCG), meanwhile, is negotiating with BrightSource to provide 500 megawatts of solar electricity and has signed a contract for 553 megawatts more with Israeli solar power company Solel. All the projects would be built in or near the Mojave.
Now I know a common argument against solar is that it takes up vast amounts of space, and it does. But is anyone seriously arguing that we shouldn't blanket the desert in solar power? Are you using that sand for anything else? As far as I'm concerned, it's a national resource, and should be exploited (safely, Greenly, and efficiently) like any other national resource. Sure, a lot of this stuff is just on the drawing board, but there's a Green Rush going on right now for the best spots in California. 24GW is a long way from powering a nation, but for people who think solar can't power a city, it's a great story and a great move forward.

[ September 15, 2007, 04:12 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
As long as we're up front about the fact that we're willing to sacrifice the desert habitat for Green power, sure. This will come at the cost of a delicate ecosystem, but it's one that probably can't take much climate change anyway. There's got to be an upper limit on how much heat the plants and animals can take. Not using Green power will probably destroy the area anyway.

It comes with a cost, but one likely to be paid even if we do nothing. So why not?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Well. I don't think it'll DESTROY the desert. What's really there to destroy? There's sand a variety of cacti that dot the landscape, and a few creatures here and there, but overall the density of wildlife in the desert is the lowest of almost any climate in the world. I don't think damage is that pronounced, and as you say, it's less than it would be if we continued to use fossil fuels.

Besides, if I have to choose between a coal plant that chokes the air and kills thousands of creatures every year and solar that takes up a lot of space in a sparsely populated area, I pick the second one, and save as much wildlife as I can. I'd be interested to read a report on the proposed impact on the desert environment, but still, I don't think it's that bad. There's no toxins being spewed into the air, it isn't using up massive amounts of water like nuclear, it's just space.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A quick update because I have to get ready for a wedding reception in an hour -

Toyota opens second European solar powered dealership.

The Blacksmith Institute has released their second annual list of the top 10 most polluted places in the world. None are in North America or Europe. But on the bright side, they also released a list of success stories, of dirty places that managed to clean themselves up.

No surprise, but a grand majority of Americans disagree with President Bush over relaxed rules on mountaintop removal mining methods. Even Republicans in Congress are shying away from this messy issue.

Another refinery on the Great Lakes seeks to increase refinery space, this time by a whopping 700%. Time to dust off the pen and paper again and write my congressman, as I urge all Great Lakers to do as well.

Ame Jaffe, associate director of the Rice Energy Program on an apollo-style energy program (think Manhatten project)
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Looks like it's a pretty good time to be Russian. They're just cleaning everything!

And hooray for not destroying mountaintops. How are you supposed to get tourists to come take pictures of the mountains if you chop the tops off? That's just bad planning.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
As always, a small weekend update:

Should cars be banned from London? Studies show it may be the only way for London to reach its carbon reduction goals, but other polls have shown that the British are absolutely against the idea. A recent poll that I neglected to link showed that almost a third of English people said that given the choice between walking or driving two miles to a location, a third refused to walk, while another third would rather drive but would consider walking. I don't think a measure banning cars will pass, though I have heard about and posted about some politicians calling for a ban on all gas powered cars. I don't think that'll go anywhere either. The goal I think, however unachievable in the near term, is electric cars powered by renewable energy. Britain, like almost every other Euro nation, is finding it extremely hard to actually meet the goals they set themselves, but drastic measures may be the only way to actually get it done.

Small Spanish company achieves certification of recyclability. Okay, this one is less about the announcement and more that I had no idea Europe made it a law that every car sold in Europe has to be at least 85% recyclable, or 95% by mass. That's an amazing law, and I think the real headline is that Europe made car companies do something extremely hard, and Green...and all of them are still selling cars! No complaining, no "I can't do it," they just made the law, boom, we have recyclable cars, and the industry moves on as usual. Even more ironic? GM and Ford have been losing money hand over fist in a largely unregulated (as far as Green goes, let me be specific) United States, but in the highly regulated (for Green) Europe, they make hundres of millions. If not for Europe, I think both of them would have folded by now. The only requirement I can think of in the US that is more stringent than in Europe is our diesel emissions standards. Tier II Bin 5 is roughly what you need to sell a car in California, and it'w almost twice as strict as what Europe has with their Euro IV standards, but Bin 5 isn't mandatory, it's more of a goal, and it depends on vehicle weight. In other words it's somewhat complicated, maybe I'll go into it another time in an editorial. Either way, they're still selling cars, regardless of the regulations, and they are still making lots of money.

Here's a little speech from Rob Hopkins to the International Forum on Globalization. He briefly discusses peak oil, but it's less henny penny the sky is falling and more "if it happens, which it eventually will, it can go a lot of different ways, so let's be prepared." His whole approach to the Green movement is something I've been personally trying to do for years. He says that too many of us in the Green movement are talking about global climate change like the sky is falling, about how dark and bleak our future will be if we do nothing, basically it's negative reinforcement. And it turns a lot of people off. What we should be doing, and what I've tried to personally adhere to, is positive reinforcement. Don't tell people how horrible the world will be if we do nothing, tell them how awesome it will be if we do the things we need to do. It's like selling a vacation, sell them the upsides, don't sell them on NOT going to this other crappy vacation spot. You need to coax them out of their holes, not scare them out. How does that old saying go? Something about catching more bees or bears with honey rather than vinegar? Well the idea is there.

Treehugger's quote of the day talks about food, and while this isn't strictly a Green issue, it does have ripples. The Green argument has to do with sustainable agriculture, but I like to mix issues together sometimes. There's a healthcare problem in this country, that's no surprise. The question you might ask is, "well what does our health have to do with the environment?" To which I would say, "everything!" It's the fact that we drive and don't walk everywhere that we're so obese. We truck in food from far, far away which adds nasty emissions into the air when we should be buying local produce. We eat more meat, bar none, than any other country in the world, who largely eat meat almost like a dessert, it's an extra treat. It used to be that way in America too, even just 60 years ago. Just after the depression, and during, meat was extremely expensive. I remember a woman telling me a story that when she was a little girl, her brother was in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), they did a lot of stuff in National Parks, building paths and making them more accessible. Something now that we'd almost certainly call a "make work" job and yet we all enjoy the NPS. Anyway, the CCC was where a LOT of young men went to get work. They didn't give the men a check, they sent it right to their families, and the woman I spoke to (ironically, at Mammoth Cave), said if not for the CCC her family would have starved to death, and the day when the check came was the one day a month they could eat meat. The way we farm meat in this country isn't good for us, the animals, or the environment. They should be free roaming, and there's no good reason why they aren't. The meat would be more nutricious if they did. We should be eating more whole grains and less greasy, fatty, preprepared foods, and we can save the environment and our waistlines at the same time. More importantly (for a lot of people), we can save for our wallets.

You don't realize that there's a magic hidden tax on every double cheeseburger you buy. It might be on the 99 cent menu, but you are paying a hidden cost in healthcare bills later in life when all that cholesterol adds up. You also pay in years off your life. How do you even put a price on that?

Anyway, got a little offtopic there, but the point is that Green and many other issues are all interconnected.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Here you can find the special on the CBS morning show about electric cars. Tesla and the Chevy Volt were featured, among others. I haven't watched it yet but I will tonight.

Safeway will install solar panels at 23 stores in California.

US will work with China to increase energy efficiency.

Xerox opens more efficient factory that produces more Green toner.

More later...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Sorry to break this into two posts, I had to sign off and take a nap, I was exhausted. Sadly I awoke to find the Tigers lost to the Indians in a walkoff homer. Oy.

We're one week away from the West Coast Green Conference, this one is for regular people.

Global Warming could cause global collapse of food supply. Poor, southern nations the hardest hit, northern industrialized countries to get boost from longer growing season.

Australia has new internationally recognized standard for forestry practices. Think LEED certification for wood.

Offshore wind power getting a boost in Deleware.

Company brings makeshift farmer's markets to office parking lots. Healthier lunch and partnerships with local farmers? More please!

Ethanol producing cyanobacteria - I've talked about this before. One of the hopes of the Green movement is that CO2 sequestration will really be recycling, using bacteria like this or like algae to turn CO2 into something usable. It's the hope for cellulosic ethanol too.

Look out SoCal, you're in for a water crunch! Increasing drought in the Southern California region has led to a decision to reduce by 30% the amount of water SoCal gets from northern resevoirs. The south gets 60% of their water from those resevoirs. Officials in the south believe this will lead to some possibly serious increases in the price of water in SoCal, as well as a lot of new regulations on what you can and can't use water for. The future is here now.

Carl Sagan talks about reducing poverty and lowering the world birth rate.

Sun Lizard is a much Greener way to heat and cool your home (okay, it's not the best thing ever, but it takes the edge off!)

SolarGenix has a revolutionary (so they say) do it yourself system of solar powered heating and cooling. This one actually looks pretty cool.

Some featured articles

Russia claims they have found a mineral that can render radioactive material totally inert. Possible boon to nuclear power, but claim has not been independently verified.

More talk in Britain about getting rid of cars. The Greens there are talking about huge taxes on cars in order to radically expand the rail system.

Ground has been broken on a new 70MW solar power plant in MA.

End of features, now for something a bit lighter...

article on

Now I seriously hope that the picture and the video are a joke, and that it's not an ACTUAL Toyota ad. It's going way too far if it is, and while the point isn't a bad one, it's done so very, very wrong.

I'll do a breakdown on the CBS video later tonight and edit this post.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Okay, the video is just shy of 11 minutes, so it's not bad. It's roughly 1/3 about Tesla, 1/3 about the Chevy Volt, and 1/3 about electric cars and batteries in general.

The bit about Tesla was cool. They talked about the big price, but also that it's sold out and back ordered for a year, and though they didn't name it they talked about Tesla's already planned family car, the half priced White Star (which I cannot for the life of be think of without thinking of Babylon 5). Tesla is the representative of the pure electric community. 200 mile range that you plug in with no connection to the gas pump. It's also the representative of the grass roots effort, the small start up electric car that is popping up all over Silicon Valley.

Then they move on to Detroit and the establishment, GM. They briefly touch on the "Who Killed The Electric Car?" thing, and then delve into GM's commitment to the Volt. They take us through the labs that are working on the battery, they talk with Bob Lutz, who again expresses his commitment and excitement for the car. Pogue, the interviewer phrases the PHEV in a way I haven't heard it mentioned yet, which is a "reverse hybrid," in that, instead of being gas powered with a little battery to augment it, it's really an electric car with a small gas engine to help charge it. It really is an electric car, it just has a tiny power plant on board. It's a good article.

But they cover the skepticism over GM's commitment, without I think, giving fair time to the EV1. The EV1 died for perfectly valid reasons: They weren't sellable. The batteries sucked, I don't care what that documentary says. They like to say that 5,000 people were waiting in the wings to buy them, but that's not true. 5,000 people expressed a keen interest, and then when GM told them it'd be $299 a month for a lease, you'd only get 80 miles of range, and it'd take up to 15 hours to charge it, a lot of them said forget it. Keeping in mind they were only available in I think California and Arizona, and I can't imagine I'd want one in LA traffic either. Lutz admits that shredding them was ridiculously stupid, but that not selling them was good business sense.

I'm a bit surprised they didn't even throw a bone to the tussle between Toyota and GM over the future of PHEVs, or try to cover any of the other PHEVs being developed, but frankly no large car company has embraced PHEVs like GM has, despite whatever press releases they issue and concepts they bring to auto shows, especially Toyota who spends a lot of time badmouthing them.

We'll have to wait a couple years to see what happens with the Volt, but we should know in less time than that whether or not the Roadster goes the way of the EV1 or not.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
No update today. I had one set up and ironically when I went to copy the post before posting it (to make sure it wasn't lost), I hit paste by accident and killed the post. Sorry to say, I just don't feel like doing it again. There were a couple good things at,, and Green Wombat, so you can check them out yourself if you want to. There was some stuff on California's proposed regulations and Texas wind power that was good.

I promise a bigger update tomorrow.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
Lyrhawn, in most apps, even in notepad, I think, ctrl-z will undo your last action. You can recover from most accidental pastes that way.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Holy crap, thanks! Damn I wish I'd known that 10 minutes ago.

Much appreciated Bok.
Posted by Noemon (Member # 1115) on :
Here's an interesting interview with Joe Biden in which he talks about "energy security" being the primary focus of a Biden presidency.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I like Biden. I really do. I'd vote for him if I think he had a chance of winning, but really I don't think there is that chance, though I'd love to see him as Obama's VP maybe.

My favorite answer was this:

I see a role for nuclear, but first you've got to deal with the security as well as the safety concerns. I'd be spending a whole hell of a lot of money trying to figure out how to reconfigure the spent fuel into reusable fuel. I would not invest in [growing our nuclear power capacity in its current form], but I would invest in sorting out the storage and waste problems.
Emphasis mine. I know Biden gets attacked a lot for making gaffes, but I LIKE that kind of off the cuff response. Why? Because I hate polish. I hate washed, polished, screened, pre-written answers and talking points. I liked his answers in general, it looks like he REALLY gets it, and he'd be ultra aggressive about it. I wish the other Democratic candidates got it too.

Alright, one article I WILL post is this: Traffic congestion is only getting worse in America, and it's costing is billions in time and money. In other words, we're still largely using the same roads our parents used while adding millions of drivers. So you get more time wasted in traffic, that lowers our productivity, and you get more time spent sitting in traffic, which wastes gas (and both waste money). Ironically, making concrete is one of the most polluting activities we have, and that's what we'd have to do to create more roads to ease congestion, but I think it'd be worth the carbon investment in terms of long term savings.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I wouldn't call that a gaffe so much as an inaccuracy. If you build a breeder reactor, you get more fuel that you started with. Which is pretty impressive when you consider that the whole point is to break the uranium so it isn't uranium anymore.

Spent fuel is mostly cobalt that will break down into something inert. Lead maybe? It just needs to be put away so the gamma rays don't kill anyone while it does it. The paper suits are a little trickier. Good thing they don't use those anymore. Not sure what to do with the old ones, though.
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
I'll add that in some apps you can even use that combo several times to go back several edits.

No problem, Lyrhawn. You provide a lot of info, and it sucks when you're stymied by Windows [Smile] I need my Green fix.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
As promised, your somewhat bigger than usual report. Yeah, there wasn't a huge amount of cool stuff today, so even though I said I wouldn't, I went back and grabbed some of yesterday's headlines that I said I'd leave in the dust. Going back over them, some were pretty good, so here you go:

Businessweek has a big review on Green tech, I haven't been through it all, but there's a lot there.

Despite sluggish sales last month, hybrid sales as a whole are up almost 50% from last year. And to emphasize the point, check out this graph on hybrid sales increaes by region and state.

CA Judge dismisses suit against car companies. CA claimed cars were a nuissance because of emissions. Rightly I think, the suit was slapped down. Blaming car companies is trying to find a scapegoat. I think car companies have a role to play, but attacking them like that is goofy. It won't solve the problem at all, it might even make it worse.

California wants all new commercial buildings in CA to be carbon free and self powered.

Ariba offers advice to companies on how to "green" their supply chain.

New designs for apartment buildings are self powered, heated, and through vertical farms, actually provide their own food. Talk about one stop shopping!

New ceramic tiles make carbon sequestration from coal fired plants much easier. I can't let this one go without a disclaimer. As good as this is for possible sequestration technologies, CS is still very expensive, and almost wholly untried with the exception of oil fields. We don't know how long it will stay in the earth, we don't know what unintended consequences there might be, and we don't know how much space will be taken up, or if we even have nearly enough space to do it. So, this is great, because if we ever need for CO2 to be emitted purely, this makes it much easier, but don't think that this is any sort of major solution. Renewables are still the way to go.

Okay this one is a bit wacky. Here in the US we have enough space in the desert to power the whole country through solar (more on that later), but many countries don't have that luxury. So the UAE, being one of them, wants to build giant solar islands in the middle of the Gulf. What do you expect from the same people who build giant islands tailored to their every need? Still, it doesn't look like they are very efficient, they'd need dozens of the things.

For those living in Brooklyn, the 3rd Annual Green Brooklyn Event is Friday. It'll give you tons of tips on everything from composting in the city to small improvements you can make around your house. It's a Green Expo.

Old problems with coal get new light shined on them. Clean coal looks like more of a myth than ever.

Canada cuts spending on Wildlife observations. But let's still give these guys some credit, I've had a dozen posts recently on Canadian spending on Green energy projects.

The wrong way to look at the global fight against pollution.

Washington DC to mandate more parking for bikes. Bicycles have obvious benefits. They don't pollute, they make you healthier, and they ease traffic congestion. Furthermore, Britian is looking at a major investment in cycling in the UK as a way to SAVE money.

Several Featured articles today

British scientists have found a way to use lasers to render radioactive waste inert. Looks promising!

Scientists advocate solar for the whole US, say that solar power could power the entire nation. And it's cost effective. Infrastructure changes are required though.

Europeans embrace microgeneration!

Special link for baseball fans!

Alright, mostly for girls I guess, or guys looking to buy their ladies some baseball related swag. Uncommon Goods is selling silver jewelry with recycled plastic and wood bits from old Baseball stadiums in them, in an effort to keep waste out of landfills, and at the same time let you have a piece of that classic childhood memory stay with you forever. Normally I don't schill for places like this, but it IS for a good cause (that cause being less waste!) and if they can make some money off using the three R's while selling a product that frankly I think a lot of people would like, then do be it.

PS. I'm probably going to get one for my mom (a huge Tigers fan) for Christmas.

PPS. They are uber expensive. I just checked out the link, and the bracelet on the picture at the link is over $200. The cheapest thing they have is a necklace that starts at $80. Just so you're aware.

And we'll top it off with a little quirky bonus

I was going to post this in the "Talk Like a Pirate Day" Thread, but no one started one! So here you go, scientific proof that the reduction in number of Pirates is causing global warming!

[ September 20, 2007, 12:15 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Just an update, I did a little browsing through the Businessweek page on green stuff, and it's chock full of great information.

I won't link, you can look for yourself, but "The State of Green," and "Energy From Unusual Sources," were good. Much of it will look very familiar to any frequent reader of this thread, but even I was surprised by the blurb on using lightning bolts to power homes. I guess when it comes to our manmade power sources, mother nature still blows us away.

Anyway, the page has tons of little links on anything from home use, to business use, and it's a great summation of a lot of what we've talked about on here for the last three months.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I really like that about the lasers. I wonder if they can stick the iodine next to the cobalt and break it down without needing extra power? If nothing else, you'd think they could boost the existing gamma rays for less power than producing all new ones.

One kind of nuclear waste might help break down another. Ha!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Okay, I thought this deserved a second, more in depth look. Vertical Farms are something I posted about yesterday (or the day before), and at the time I thought, "well that looks neat," but there's apparently a lot more to them than that. The designs are many, but the benefits could be staggering. A recent article in New York magazine states that 150 of these buildings, 30 stories high and about the footprint of a city block, could feed all of New York City for a year. They produce their own power and water, even to excess, while feeding 50,000 people per building. The benefits are staggering, obviously. Ridiculously less fuel used to transport food all over the country, I'd imagine reduced food prices, since you are not only buying direct from the source, so no middle man mark up, but also no transportation costs, and a lot of the other costs involved with the modern farming industry. Frankly I think they look beautiful too. This is the penultimate sustainable building. While I don't expect to see this any time soon, I would LOVE to see one of these spring up in New York.

Jane Goodall praises new Kenmore appliances. Okay, that sounds a little goofy, but these things use way less water than old ones, and they run on less power than it takes to run some lightbulbs! Now that's impressive (Plus they are so high above even Energy Star standards, they qualify for a tax credit!)

Electricity prices set for a big jump in the US. And you thought it was just gas prices. This might tune a lot of people into the power crunch in the US during this upcoming election year. Basically it comes down to some of the same things I've been saying. The industry has no friggin clue what Congress is planning, especially without knowing who'll be the next President, they don't know what to build. If they knew for a fact that there would be no CO2 laws coming, they'd be building tons of coal plants, but they fear regulation, so building now could be disastrously expensive in the near future. Also, building materials are SKYROCKETING in price, thanks in part to the huge upsurge in renewable building. Wind plants especially are seeing big jumps in price because the towers they need to mount the turbines on are made of a now super expensive steel. On the bright side, US Steel us making a tidy sum off the explosion in construction, on the downside, we all have to pay more for power, regardless of what kind it is.

US Datacenters are considering going Green in large numbers.

Construction should consider Green renovation rather than rebuildings.

A little detail on the new GM HCCI engine.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Could Midwestern ethanol take us back to the dust bowl years? Maybe. The Ogallala aquifer, where most of the states between Texas and South Dakota get a lot of their water, is dropping, and many think it is because of increased ethanol production. Maybe ethanol will help us get serious about water conservation?

Nanotechnology and Green building join forces to the benefit of both.

MA school builds geothermal power plants on site to power school. They expect to gain $17K a year for six years and then make pure profit off it from then on.

Anyone notice? Today (or tomorrow, I can't tell which) is PARKing Day. The idea is to basically hold parking spaces hostage and turn them into green spaces to outline the glaring lack of open public spaces in America. I think I might have linked this once before, but it's worth mentioning again. We really do have too many parking spaces, and not enough green.

Architect Paul Rudolph wants people to pay more attention to renovating old buildings and less attention to knocking everything down. I like this for two reasons. 1. Renovating saves on materials. 2. America doesn't have enough architectural heritage. We knock too many old buildings down to make way for something new when we should preserve our history and upgrade the ineterior. What would Europe look like today if they had never saved anything?

Metal Shutter Houses are up for sale in NYC. They haven't been built yet, but they espouse a couple important Green improvements, like solar lighting and open spaces to allow for airflow, which will reduce the need for air conditioning. I'm not sure about the windows opening quite so wide, but it's not like you have to worry about bugs when you're that high up. Otherwise I think they look amazing.

Best Buy is apparently trying to slap a free Green changes on their buildings to give them a Green label, but at what point is it just Green-washing?

Not strictly energy news, but a "species factory" has been found off the coast of Indonesia.

A Mexican institution gets its first PV power plant.

New solar panel system designed to look nice and be easy for home installation.

Making LEDs brighter using salmon sperm? Well, yeah, maybe. Researchers are looking at biological products to make LEDs better.

Americans apparently don't have a clue...about where we produce the most greenhouse gas emissions.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Wow. 5 pages into the thread and I'd still have said cars and coal plants were the pollutors. I guess I haven't been paying as much attention as I thought. [Embarrassed]

As for the buildings being reused, I'd say it depends on the situation. If someone wanted to knock down our pretty buildings downtown, I'd have a problem with that. When they knocked down the grocery store no one wanted to build a new department store, I was thrilled. I thought the lot would sit empty while folks built new ones south of town. Heck, we're hoping the rumors are true that the strip mall across the intersection is getting knocked down to build condos.

Attractive buildings should be renovated. Most buildings are not attractive. They're large concrete boxes. I'd rather see them torn down than sit empty.
Posted by Mike (Member # 55) on :
From the fourth comment on the "buildings cause most greenhouse gases" link:

Ummm... what? Excuse my ignorance here, but how are the buildings to blame? Just the electricity they use? Or am I missing something obvious? Because if it's just the electricity, that's a very misleading survey. The emissions for the electricity come from the power plant, not the house, even if the house is using the energy, right? So I can understand why people would say power plants were the leading cause of carbon emissions. If I'm somehow mistaken, please point it out.
Nu? Isn't it just that buildings draw a lot of electricity? So isn't it ultimately the power plants producing the emissions?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I have much less of a problem with knocking down something ugly and wasteful.

Yeah, but that's not how they look at it. If you're trying to focus on conservation and reducing energy use, you have to look at who is using the energy and not who is producing it, because they are only producing, most of the time, what people are demanding. You can focus on filtering emissions from stacks, but if you want to talk about conservation, you have to look at the users, and Commercial buildings are HUGE users of energy, which makes them huge polluters.

Yes power plants are the ones who create the emissions, but they are really just agents, the creators are those that buy the energy. Without the buildings, the electricity wouldn't need to be made, and the pollution wouldn't exist.

It might look like a semantic argument, but when it comes to reducing use, it's very important.
Posted by Mike (Member # 55) on :
Indeed, from the standpoint of reducing emissions, it is very important to identify the biggest consumers of energy. But this article appears to have no other purpose than to say "look at those dumb Americans." What it indicates to me more than anything else is that the survey was extremely poorly worded. After all, why would anyone point to power plants as the leading cause of emissions if we are looking only at consumers of energy, not producers?

Also, claiming that buildings cause greenhouse gas emissions is misleading when it is actually the energy consumption associated with buildings that is (indirectly, through some kinds of power plants) causing the emissions. It makes it sound like, o noes, there's an abandoned building over there emitting CO2, when that's not actually happening at all.

Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
More than that, it's a matter of marginal costs. eg When a heat wave rolls in and air conditioner use is bumped up, that extra demand for power causes ever more less-efficient&more-polluting powerplants to be fired up and placed on-line. The greater the demand, the worse the performance-level of the plants brought on-line.
The most efficient dual-cycle methane-burning gas-turbine powerplants achieve ~60% of the theoretical maximum efficiency in converting the potential power of fuel into electricity.
The least efficient coal-fired powerplants run at ~20% of the theoretical maximum efficiency. For the same amount of potential energy contained within the fuel itself, coal-burning produces 5/3rds the amount of greenhouse gas as methane-burning.....and far far more sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution.
ie The least-efficient coal-burning powerplants are putting out 60% divided by 20% times 5/3rds, or 5times as much CO2 to produce the same amount of electricity as the most-efficient methane-burning powerplants.

Since such peak demand also causes electricity to be imported from farther away, transmission-line losses cause a further decrease in efficiency. And transmitting more electricity on a transmission-line than it is optimally designed to handle causes an increase in transmission-line resistance, causing a yet further decrease in efficiency.
Which is why highly expensive fuel-cell powerplants are nearly economicly competitive in places like Manhattan. Considering maximum load-capacity of individual transmission lines and power converters, the cost of adding extra load-capacity to handle peak demand closely approaches the extra cost of installing fuel-cell powerplants. Add that those fuel-cell powerplants directly supply electricity to critical services such as fire, police, hospitals, etc that are the last places ya want to have shut down due to a blackout, and fuel-cell operations become very attractive as a means of supplying peak power.

Thing is ya can't just replace the less-efficient plants with the most-efficient powerplants. To achieve that 60% efficiency, the dual-cycle powerplants have to run at their optimum production level on a close-to-constant basis so that the waste from the first-cycle gas-turbine generators can keep the second-cycle steam-powered generators running efficiently.
ie A dual-cycle gas-turbine isn't good at varying the amount of electricity produced, and thus not economicly competitive with less-efficient but quick&easy on&off-cycling powerplants such as single-cycle gas-turbine, fuel-oil, diesel, and the least-efficient coal-fired powerplant in producing peak power.

So the best way to minimize the greenhouse gas production accompanying electricity production is to decrease the difference between the base*load and the peak-load. And the most economical way to do that is to increase the efficiency at which final consumers use their electricity.

As an added benefit, the total cost of electricity production decreases because the least efficient means of getting electricity to the consumer are decreased. Which means lower costs to the consumer; including because lower demand for fuel means lower prices for fuel.

* The minimum expectable demand for electricity within a given period of time. I almost linked to Wiki but frankly the authors' statements about baseload powerplants are absurdly misleading due to what-is-not-discussed.

[ September 23, 2007, 05:46 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
We need a standing ovation graemlin. Thanks for all that info, aspectre.

Do you happen to know if it's hard to get the methane for the better plants to burn? Coal we go dig out of the grond and ship on a barge. Is it comparable to getting methane and shipping it cost and efficiency wise?

Like, I know uranium costs more than coal size wise. But you get more energy out of it than the coal, so it ends up cheaper. Is methane the same way?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Nicely worded post aspectre. The difference between peak and offpeak is part of why I think there should be different prices for off peak and peak use, to reduce the peak use and put all that use at night when it's cheaper, otherwise that power is just being wasted. Peaking plants are the most wasteful of all, and we should be first focusing on reducing daytime use, and replacing them with renewables. It's also why a massive EV car fleet could be powered without any real extra pollution, because that energy is still produced at night, it just isn't used.

You'll start to see a BIG call in the next 10 years to SERIOUS update the US electric grid from AC to DC, to reduce transmission losses so we can more or less import renewable power from the southwest. The desert, for really the first time, is being turned into a techologically enabled natural resource. It's the best land for solar power, and there's nothing out there for anyone to really argue about as far as taking up the space. A 96x96 square mile spread of land, while unrealistic at the moment, could power the country, and we have the room to spare, it'll just take a change in the way we talk about energy, and a major investment over the next 20 years.

I expect zero real progress to be made with Pres. Bush in charge, though private industry is picking up the slack. Bush is making zero demands of us through conservation, and a lot of industry and Congressional officials are balking at relaxing standards for air quality and allowing more polluting plants when Conservation efforts haven't even been tried yet. They're calling it ridiculous, and it is, to argue that we're short on energy (which we are) when we've had zero call from government for better Conservation efforts.

We need an AGGRESSIVE government when it comes to energy efficiency in this country, the kind of aggressive stance we haven't seen on this sort of domestic issue in 40 years.

It's depressing, to see how apathetic and untrusting this government is of its people, to think they can't trust us to understand how important this issue is.

I'll get your update for you later tonight.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
But you get more energy out of it than the coal, so it ends up cheaper. Is methane the same way?
It all depends on location. It's difficult to ship natural gas, so it's generally moved by pipelines. Some oilfields aren't located where they can be conveniently connected to a pipeline, and they actually flare off gas, because to them it's a nuisance. But if a powerplant is on a pipeline, it might be cheaper depending on the demand for natural gas, and the proximity to the oilfield /refinery.

I've also heard of powerplants that burn hydrogen during surges in demand, because it provides a quick source of high quality steam without the need for a boiler. It's a very expensive fuel, but it can be turned on at the flip of a switch, so there is no time delay that occurs when you start heating up a boiler. This is an extreme example of how load changes make power production inefficient.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Sorry I didn't get an update for you all last night. I did a quick browse of my usual info sources and didn't really see a whole lot of attention grabbing stuff, which is pretty usual for the weekend, so I took the night off. Forgive me [Smile]

But for today...

One major complaint about CFLs is now gone; they are now fully dimmable.

Concrete proof that air pollution causes heart disease, and we know how it works.

In slightly offbeat Green news, many are expecting the Pope, in his first address to the UN, to make a major speech on global warming and perhaps even linking Green living to moral behavior.

Ford may be getting on the Green bandwagon with an Escort PHEV in 2010 or 2011, still just speculation.

Touring one of the most polluted places in the US. Seriously I watched the video and it's disgusting. To think that companies are flouting anti-pollution laws and are getting away with it, it's disturbing, especially so since they can only do so when apathy thrives.

Okay, you guys know that I don't usually post stuff like this, but this falls into my personal "cool" category. It's a wind powered outdoor LED light. You know those little solar powered outdoor accent lights you can jab into the ground? This is a larger version, that spins in a helix formation with a little breeze, and it lights up when it spins from LED lights that go up and down it. It's pretty cool looking.

Red meat in excess isn't just not good for your health, it's not good for the health of the planet either. And we Americans apparently eat WAY too much red meat.

Next genearation of Volkswagon cars could ALL have a hybrid option, and some may be standard.

Another win for the OZONE layer! In an add-on to the Montreal Accord, the world's nations have agreed to accelerate phasing out and eliminating HCFC emissions. They'll be done with by 2020 for industrialized nations, and 2030 for developing nations.

New Transbay Terminal in San Diego is beautiful to behold and Greener than your average skyscraper to boot. I'm going to check into this further to see what sort of, if any, LEED certification they are aiming for, and what sorts of Green engineering they're incorporating into the design.

Cost of traditional solar panels cut by 50% thanks to researchers in California. The manufacturing process is also less wasteful. Result? Solar power produced at less than $1 a watt.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Double sized post today to make up for the day I missed. Might come in two halves.

Icelandic bank loans out a billion dollars to geothermal projects in the US.

The so-called "Holy Grail" of LEDs (a white light good enough for home use) has been achieved by Indian scientists. It contains small amounts of Cadmium, which is a downside, but it's less than the mercury in CFLs, so I wonder how bad it'll really be.

The DOE will spend $38 million for advanced battery research to make PHEVs a reality.

The University of Buffalo may have come up with a new technique to make solar film more efficient and cheaper to produce.

Dell goes carbon neutral...or at least that's the line.

Silicon Valley leading the fight against climate change.

NRG has submitted papers to the US government agency that oversees nuclear plants for the building of the first nuclear power plants in the US in 30 years.

Reusable paper? Xerox has announced that they are in the early stages of research into paper that will be timed. Basically, you print something on it, and after a specified period of time the ink disappears and you have new paper again.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
US policy in mass transit seems to be headed off the tracks.

Can Marine Reserves save the sea from humans?

Businesspeople and Treehuggers join forces at last? Maybe. It appears both sides might finally realize they have something to gain from listening to one another (which might seem obvious, but hasn't always been apparent).

EU taking maverick action on airplan emissions, US decrying unfairness. Wow, there's some irony for you.

Featured Article
The Bush Administration, in documents recently made public, lobbied hard behind the scenes to try and drum up negative attention for California's more aggressive stance on emissions. It appears the White House is no longer interested in a fair fight (which it knows it'll likely lose), so it's resorted to yet more underhanded tactics.

Tiny island nations plead for industrialized nations to do their part in saving the world.

Hello and goodbye, a list of 100 things that may be gone forever, and things we might have to learn to live with, because of global climate change.

Featured Article
Follow the link and check out the page, it's a report being done by NBC on the coming water crisis in the world. By 2030, up to 2/3rds of the world will be living in water stressed areas. If we don't start taking action now, we may find that many of the problems we're worried about in the world right now pale in comparison to this looming threat. It's going to catch a lot of people unaware. In third world countries, millions will die. In America, it's doubtful that many will die, but it could dramatically change the way we grow and consume food, and where we build our homes. And for most of us, it's going to seem like it's coming out of nowhere.

Businesses are already being warned to watch out for this problem.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for the 27th:

MI Congressman John Dingell goes hardcore on pollution. Proposes $50 per ton tax on CO2 and 50 cent increase in gas tax. Wow, that's some damned tough talk. All proceeds would go towards renewables. Now, that kind of cash could be huge in spurring efficiency upgrades and better mileage for cars. It could be a huge drag on the economy too, which is why it'll go nowhere, but we need to raise funds from somewhere. That money could go towards upgrading the power network in the country to reduce transmission losses, as well as providing funding for research projects and money for efficiency upgrades. I support it, or at least a watered down version of it. Any sort of aggressive action will still require compromise. You can't sacrifice business for the sake of the environment, much as I'd like to say it doesn't matter, it does. Treehuggers and Businesspeople need to work together to aggressively solve the problem in a way that won't crush one group or the other in the process, and I think we can reach an agreement.

This, however, is not the way to do it. Rice and Pres. Bush are living in fantasyland if they really think that businesses will voluntarily reduce emissions. "But Lyrhawn," you say, "haven't you been reporting to us that dozens of businesses are doing exactly that?" Well, yes, I have. But I've also been saying that a great many of them are doing so for three reasons: 1. Consumer backlash, which many of them fear if their can't keep up at least the guise of Green cred. 2. Money savings through reduced power consumption. 3. Fear of future CO2 legislation. They are reducing their consumption because they KNOW that regardless of what Pres. Bush says now, there WILL be some sort of cap in the future, so they are getting a head start. The prudent thing would be to let them in on what the plan will be, so they aren't all whipping in the wind with no real guidance.

Frankly it should something like this. We've already been through this, with CFCs and the hole in the OZONE layer. Government mandated change, and business balked that it would be too expensive. It wasn't. And now we have made tremendous progress in achieving our goal in a short amount of time. Pres. Bush is a naysayer, but worse, he's a fearmongerer, at a time when fearmongering is particularly potent and finds purchase all too easily in the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Fact is, delaying CO2 legislation is probably going to cost us more in the long run than implementing a fair piece of legislation sooner.

Yeah I'm harping on it again, our rivers are disgusting and our sewers are overtaxed. Do we want to end up looking like the Ganges? If you want to have rivers your kids and grandkids can swim in some day, you need to start paying attention to the problem now.

Handy dandy power strip takes the pressure of your mind and smartly saves you power.

Waste management is turning 60 more landfills into gas capturing renewable energy plants. This could generate more than 700MW of clean power.

PG&E has announced plans to buy an additional GW of solar power, making it the largest provider of solar derived power in the US.

Florida is playing ball on solar power too, realizing how much they have to lose if climate change becomes a reality.

Standard Charter Bank has pledges at the Clinton Global Initiative to spend more than $8 BILLION on renewable investments around the world.

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How technology will decide this issue regardless of what Congress does.

P.S. I don't know how many people actually read this thread on a regular basis, at least three or four of you I'd imagine, but I was wondering how you think a Green Fundraiser might go over. No, I know that there seems to be more fundraising going on here than usual on a regular basis, what with Tatiana's Kiva (which, by the way, is totally awesome, and a lot of fun to track, so don't for a second thing I'm knocking that effort, I'm not [Smile] ), so I don't want to crowd the punchbowl, but I had an idea in mind. Generally it's hard to do any sort of small fundraiser for Green causes because there's really only three things you can do: 1. Offsets. 2. Efficiency Upgrades. 3. Renewable investment. Well we don't really have the resources for investing, and I'm skeptical of the value of carbon offsets. Frankly I think they are a copout, and scientifically muddled since carbon sinks by and large only really work in South America.

So I was thinking something along the lines of number two, efficieny upgrades. What if we did a sort of Hatrack microlending for effiency upgrades for other hatrackers? Personally I'd love it if there was a US Efficiency version of Kiva so regular Americans could borrow money for efficiency upgrades, but there isn't. So what if we created a revolving fund, where hatrackers could borrow money for things like CFLs to replace incandescents, or to buy equipment to lower their water usage. Some of these might be DIY projects that could make a home more efficient, so the person borrowing is also donating their time for the upgrade. Then the borrower will pay back into the fund, and we can loan it out again, whilst having the upgrades in place.

I know it's not quite the same, since this is people we know, and it's different than someone in a third world country, and different than us just pointing and clicking to watch numbers roll around, but I think most everyone here is trustworthy, and I'd love to go beyond reporting the changes that OTHER people are making and even if it's a small change, really be involved with spreading real changes to real people.

Thoughts? Suggested modifications? Shoot me down and put me out of my misery? Constructive criticism is welcome!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New Zealand to be 90% renewable powered by 2025.

ING, like many other companies, is going carbon neutral by buying all wind power for their operations.

Dupont exploring making plastics from plants. It's not new technology, it's been around for something like 70 years. Ford has been doing tons of work on making car parts from plants. I think I posted about it once before, but 70 years ago there was a Betamax/VCR type war over whether we'd make plastics from plants or oil. Oil won out at the time because back then we still had Texas and California, and oil was flowing like rivers (unlike today, where it just flows INTO our rivers). In other words it was cheap and plentiful so plants lost. But with that not being the case, we're starting to take a look at plants again.

Something to keep in mind though, is using plants as our own domestic source of plastic building blocks MIGHT not be the best solution either. Midwest aquifers are drying up, the Gret Lakes are at their lowest recorded level ever, Florida has used up a great many of their natural aquifers as well, and drought persists in the west, and south. Farming in America might not, in the next 30 years, be what it was in the last 30. Just something to keep in mind.

I know you've seen me post a lot about PG&E before, and it looks like their efforts have caught up with them, as CNN Money takes a look at the Green Juggernaut.

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Very detailed article on what Cellulosic Ethanol is, where we are in the progress towards achieving it cost effectively, and the science involved. Great for getting caught up on the ethanol debate.

And here is a look at some of the competition ethanol has in the biofuel business.

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This thing is pretty cool. It measures how much power you are using at any given time in your house, and then tells you how much money it's costing you per hour. When you turn a lamp off, you see exactly how much money you are saving. Should be a great way for people to truly see what their habits cost them.

Ecuador pledges to forgo development on largest oil reserve in order to preserve rainforest. Highly commendable. looking solar powered street lamp. It's an interesting design, and while it looks weird, I really don't think I'd mind seeing one on a regular street if it replaced those big metal drab grey droning street lamps with their dull lights that we have now.

Ontario election sees big fight over who is the Greenest.

Using electricity to power coral growth? Maybe!

Germany is a perfect example of how a Green economy can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

PS. Any comments on my idea from the last post?

[ October 01, 2007, 06:27 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Barring any comment on my idea, I think I'm going to start a new thread and propose the fundraiser idea to all of Hatrack and see what the response is.

Sorry there hasn't been any big update lately, but news has been slowly and largely repetitive really. Even some of today will sound like a rehashing, but there's still some new information to be had:

Alaskan fishing village falls into the sea due to soil erosion.

Most men in America doubt the truth of "green" products. Most men especially in the south say they doubt whether a product is green or not, and would not pay more up front, even if they knew it would save them more in the long run. On the other hand, the majority of them say they WOULD pay more up front for home building costs to built a more efficient home.

Most retailers getting serious about sustainability.

Using microbes to turn trash into fuel via fuel cells may soon be a reality. This isn't like thermodepolymerization, which uses heat to separate hydrocarbon chains, it's using bateria to convert rotting fruit and dirt (cellulosic trash basically) directly into stored energy. Takes composting to a whole new level.

Consortium of groups come together to form new CO2 sequestration techniques. The jury is still out on whether or not it'll work.

Kohl's is getting REALLY serious about microgeneration, and will put some serious solar power on the roofs of their department stores. When it's done next year, they will have 25MW of installed capacity, more than anyone else in the US (actually more than the top three arrays combined). Now that's a serious investment.

Urban planning could sink or swim our entire effort to reduce CO2 production. The basic argument? We need to love closer to where we work, we need to not be so spread out. You know the most efficient cities in the world? Cities like New York. Why? Because 200 single family homes are many, MANY times more wasteful than one 200 unit apartment complex. Those 200 people probably take public transportation to get to work, which likely isn't super far away, and their single building is more easily made efficient than 200 separate homes. Now multiple that by millions of people, and continued urban sprawl and you begin to see where the problem comes from.

We need to focus on public transportation and make more sustainable liveable cities.

Diane Rehm on NPR dicusses how ethanol affects food prices. It's an hour long show and I haven't listened yet, but I will later and I'll report back.

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Introducing the Energy Island. It looks like a Pacific Atoll, but it's actually a combination hydroelectric dam and offshore wind power station. The good? It produces 1.5GW of power (like having 3 coal fired plants), and it doesn't matter when the wind blows, the hydroelectric part stores energy at 80-90% efficiency. We've got tons of shoreline, let's start building these things.

I found a new site that has some really interesting news on upcoming renewable energy technologies. I'm browsing through it now to see if there's anything worth mentioning, but here's the first snippet from the site.

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New wind turbines are lighter, more efficient, and smaller than ever.

Lower weight HTS (High Temperature Superconductor) direct drive generator systems are expected to provide more power in a smaller package for about the same cost as conventional direct drive generators. By replacing copper with HTS on the generator's rotor and utilizing a new high-efficiency stator design to be developed under this project, AMSC and TWMC estimate that they could produce 10 megawatt (MW) class direct drive generator systems that would weigh approximately 120 metric tons, or about one-third the weight of conventional direct drive generators with this power rating. Technically, weight reductions could be greater, albeit at a higher cost, giving wind energy system manufacturers and developers new options to design and deploy cost-effective offshore wind farms.
Your average wind turbine from GE right now is probably between 1.5 and 3MW, with 5MW being the newly introduced high end models. Replacing old, or making new turbines at 10MW would be a huge advantage, especially if there is no price premium and they are even lighter than their predecessors. I wonder how much better it would be made with integrated MagLev technology like what the Chinese are working on.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Summary of Diane Rehm show:

Food prices have rapid increased over the last few years, last year especially because of the use of food in biofuels. For example, a pound of chicken is up 15% from a year ago, beef as well. Families are spending 9.9% of their disposable income on food, up significantly from a year ago.

We've double the amount of corn that goes into ethanol recently, and it looks like we'll double it again. Soybean prices have gone up as farmers stop planting it and plant more corn. A problem with that is that soybeans are crucial to crop rotation, they replace nitrates, but now everyone is going all corn. Corn prices have jumped as well. This is from me, not the interview, but biofuel plants in Texas have closed recently because they don't have the corn to turn into fuel. Corn is becoming scarce, and with it there is a fear that the last few remaining wild American prarie grasslands could be destroyed in the drive to grow more corn. Back to the interview, currently more supply than demand, 12 billion gallons produced, 9 billion gallon demand. Less efficient producers will fold. There's an overexuberance because of the explosion right now in subsidies and excitement, but it might be too much. Also, not from NPR, but Europe is pissy because cheap US ethanol is flooding Euromarkets and is putting domestic suppliers out of business. They are starting to complain about it. The US supplies a huge percentage of European biofuels at the moment. Back to NPR again.

Ethanol is having a hard time getting to where it is needed because the infrastructure isn't there. There are no pipelines for it because it can't be sent by pipeline, it corrodes the pipes (much like your engines!) The Senate has passed a bill doubling the amount of ethanol that MUST be blended with gas to 20%. I don't like this as I haven't seen studies on what this does to car performance and engine wear. They could be destroying a generation's worth of cars and ruin efficiency. You might end up paying more.

Oil companies are making a dollar per gallon they sell thanks to government subsidies. This means a huge winfall for oil companies and refineries. It takes 6 pounds of grain to make add a pound of beef to a beef cow. So in the third world, with the growth of the middle classes and the increased consumption of beef, you see a lot more grain being used, which spikes the price of food everywhere.

Fruit, vegetables and beverages aren't suffering as much from the spike. Other things like rent, electricity and bills like that play a bigger role in upping the price of food than commodities. The weather is playing a role as well, like last year's Euro heat wave and Australia's drought. Farmers however like the record prices and the weak dollar, it's boomtime for them. Despite that though, food companies are still using this as an excuse to raise prices.

Price hikes invariably hurt the poor the most. The rich can choose to buy less expensive foods but the poor are already buying those, and have no way to make cheaper options.

Wheat is at historic highs, $9 a bushel. Causing a bit of a problem in Congress as some push for Food Aid to be purchased locally in country rather than spending a lot to ship it from the US, but domestic producers and the shipping industry don't like that.

As we consume more and more grain for non-food sources, you're going to see our "nest egg" of grain depleted, which leaves us more vulnerable to drought and prices will spike.

The system is set up to make sugarcane ethanol almost impossible. Subsidies and tariffs make the price extremely high for sugar, which means the money is all in sugar, not ethanol, because of the Sugar lobby. Cheap Brazilian sugar is being kept out of the country. But this isn't causing prices to spike, it's just keeping the price artificially high for the last 20 years. Subsidies were designed for when farmers were in tough times in dust bowl conditions, but that is no longer the case.

New Farm Bill has a lot of money for conservation and more money for fruit and vegetable farms. Also starting to see a call for integration of energy and farming as far as the discussion of funding and sustainability goes.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
If you're going to be in DC after Oct. 12th, be sure to visit the Solar Decathalon!

PG&E gives away a million CFLs.

China joins growing list of countries that pledge to eliminate CFLs in the next 10 years. US still behind.

Lights Out San Fransisco will take place on Oct. 20th. Residents and business will be asked to turn off non-essential lighting from eight to nine pm.

Toxic America, something you might want to look at if you're moving to a big city.

Small things you can do every day to reduce waste around you.

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New nano-paint insulation actually creates energy using the temperature variation from outdoors and indoors. It might not produce a lot of power, but if we painted it on everything in the US and it only provided a 5% bonus to us, that's still thousands of megawatts saved.

Yet more on how bad coal is: Mercury run off.

Portugal will build the world's first wave farm. Okay it's small, only 3MW, but it's also only three units. We could carpet the ocean with these things in the future. Link includes actual pictures not just renderings. I have high hopes for wave power through farms like this and the giant buoys being tested in Oregon and Washington state.

Biofuels may have unintended consequences.

Macy's to reduce 40% of their energy use in California through solar power and efficiency upgrades.

Harry Reid introduces Senate bill to create National Renewable Energy Regions, to help pair transmission line builders with renewable energy power builders.

GE teams with Skypower to create 300MW of wind power in the US and Canada.

An example of how recycling can lead to beautiful results.

[ October 03, 2007, 08:59 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
That's one snazzy looking coffe table. Here's to more cool recycling projects like that.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I like the lights out San Francisco idea. I think we need a holiday of deprivation (similar to lent, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, etc) but dedicated to awareness of energy waste.

I proposed a couple of years ago that this should occur on August 14.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
California joins others in asking EPA to regulate the CO2 emissions from ocean going vessels.

Server farms go solar, get smaller.

Silicon valley will miss their carbon reduction goals.

Oil execs tell world to ease off on consumption, bump ride ahead.

Denver prototype REI store will achieve Silver LEED status.

Ohio turns tobacco settlement money into a Greenification of schools.

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Another looming fight between states and the fed over the environment? Looks like it. The DOE just ruled that they can create energy corridors to fast-track transmission lines through areas states have ruled off limits. Result? The Federal Government is telling states they have to put up with high power transmission lines over historic sites, nature preserves, state parks, pretty much anything they deem necessary. And of course these means sending coal power further and wider than ever before, stunting renewable energy production. Wow, big surprise.

Alberta has lifted a self imposed 900MW limit on wind. Currently they are at 497, with 500 more planned for interconnection before the end of the year. That'll put them at 4% of total Albertan energy. But they have 5,000MW more in the planning stages now. Really speaks to the potential of Alberta for wind power.

Texas blows away the competition in wind power. They're creating renewable energy zones to help get transmission lines up for the wind power to reach the grid, and are looking at adding up to 22GW of power to the grid in the next few years. Now that's some serious power.

Australia in danger of being overrun by Asian refugees? Okay, not anytime soon, but that doesn't mean people aren't talking about it.

[ October 04, 2007, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A look at the Auto X-Prize.

DOE passes out $2 billion in loans to alternative energy projects including Tesla. ....Second link from a different site has some more details. The loans will also include a 400MW solar power plant in CA.

Japanese researchers find hybrid larch tree that store 30% more carbon, grows faster, and provides better timber.

World's largest offshore wind farm gets a green light in Britain. When completed it will power 25% of London's homes.

San Francisco moves towards bike sharing.

Paris plans 30% carbon reduction by 2020.

In a decade, you could be traveling across the Atlantic in an airship. Problems? Well obviously the technology isn't proven yet, and they are much slower than conventional aircraft. Upsides? Might be powered solely by electric or solar panels, carries hundreds more passengers per trip (think Sky Cruise), and is much more efficient. Plus, with prices set to skyrocket for plane tickets, you could fly to London for $200.

TECO cancels a planned coal gasification power plant in Florida, fearing future CO2 regulations could make the cost untenable in the future.

New Jersey approves of studies to look into offshore wind.

Clemson University's Terry Tritt says billions of diesel could be saved every year by capturing heat from car engines.

Report from the Geothermal Energy Association trade show.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Small update today, as always, Green news mostly takes weekends off.

You may remember recently that a VA court ruled against carmakers when VA wanted to regulate CO2 emissions. Now the carmakers are appealing that decision.

Iowa and Texas are working on compressed air storage system for putting all that night time wind energy to good use. Good news? Construction will be over by 2011, and 85% of the US is situated on land that could be used for the same purpose. Bad news? Um...none? Well it's a little expensive, but the return on investment could potentially be extremely high. In other words, the price doesn't matter.

Duke Energy wants to reduce consumers' power consumption, to the benefit of both.

Today is Ecological Debt Day. In other words, today is the day in which we've officially, as a planet, used up one year's worth of resources. So where are the rest coming from? Well that's the problem with not living a sustainable lifestyle. The rest comes from future years. In other worse we're living on borrowed time and maxing out our ecological credit card.

V2Green has announced a deal by which they will test a smart grid near Seattle. They figure if everyone plugs their cars in at 6pm, they really don't all need to charge at the same time, they just need to be done by the next morning. This smart technology would regulate the flow of energy to keep the load constant and get all the cars charged by the morning. Great for efficiency.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Montreal races to become first North American city with bike sharing system.

Scientists paint a bleak picture for the American West. The problem? No water. Ironic that the midwest states, where all the water is, are losing population to the west, but I don't think that trend will last much longer.

Bill Richardson has mixed views on Water Conservation. On one hand, he seems to understand the problem, which is impressive for a politician, frankly they're mostly stupid or oblivious to natural threats. And his solutions, reusing water, recycling, reducing use, are all excellent and necessary fixes. But shipping water from the Great Lakes? Nope. There are already laws in place saying you can't even pump Great Lakes water out of the watershed area, let along all the way to the American West. You want it, come live here, otherwise, no supporting unsustainable Western living. Besides, with all the potential for sun power out west, I find it hard to believe they can't afford desalinization technology. I've heard mixed reports on it, some saying that too much use could increase the salt content of the oceans, but if the ice caps are melting, wouldn't that balance out?

Home hydrogen stations could be coming soon. Hydrogen fueled cars may not be as far off as we thought.

The Governator threatens to sue the EPA if they don't get a decision on GHG waivers by October, EPA says they'll do it by the end of the year, after two years of ignoring it.

But it's really hard to be surprised by that kind of action, when the EPA is allowing stuff like this to go on. Against the advice of their scientists yet again, they've allowed, with minor restrictions, a major toxin that causes problems for pregnant women and others, has been okayed for use in pesticides. This? From the EPA? Big surprise!

Cellolosic ethanol summit planned for next week. POET wants to win race to build first such plant, plans to add it onto a plant in Texas.

GE shutters plants and shuffles employees around as demand for incandescents plummets and CFLs are ramped up.

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Justice Department wins $4.6 BILLION dollar settlement against American Electric Power for violations of the Clean Air Act. They must make massive reductions in emissions, pay punitive penalties, and install a lot of pollution controls. Two things on this: 1. Don't give Bush any credit, this was started under Janet Reno. I have little doubt that Bush's Justice Department wouldn't have lifted a finger. 2. This is the sort of thing that the Bush Administration wanted to allow in the first place. The law is that whenever upgrades are made to power plants they MUST make upgrades to their pollution control equipment. Pres. Bush wanted to allow power plants to waive that requirement, and these coal plants under AEP did it without permission, for years, spewing massive amounts of pollution into the air.
Posted by Tristan (Member # 1670) on :
I've heard mixed reports on it, some saying that too much use could increase the salt content of the oceans, but if the ice caps are melting, wouldn't that balance out?
That desalination plants would measurably increase the salt content in the oceans seems on the face of it as an absolutely ridiculous idea. Do these people have any idea how much water there is in the oceans? And it's not as if any fresh water we take out of the oceans wouldn't return there eventually anyway.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
The problem they ran into in Tampa was they couldn't keep mussels out of the filters. It's not done yet, but they're optimistic it'll be running by 2008. I swear, this thing has some kind of hex on it. 3 companies have gone bankrupt since taking it on and it's six years behind schedule.

At the same time, I hope they do get it working. Tampa has a tendancy to wander up to Citrus county and try to convince us to sell them our fresh water springs to pump back to them. We keep telling them no, but it would be nice to not have the pressure.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Originally posted by Tristan:
I've heard mixed reports on it, some saying that too much use could increase the salt content of the oceans, but if the ice caps are melting, wouldn't that balance out?
That desalination plants would measurably increase the salt content in the oceans seems on the face of it as an absolutely ridiculous idea. Do these people have any idea how much water there is in the oceans? And it's not as if any fresh water we take out of the oceans wouldn't return there eventually anyway.
I'll try and dig up a report or two when I have a chance, I'm headed to the west coast (Michigan's [Smile] ) for a couple days, so I may or may not be around. But the only two concerns I ever hear about desalinization are: 1. It requires massive amounts of energy. 2. If every drought stricken area were to rely on it, it'd suck insane amounts of fresh water out of the ocean and raise the salt content, possibly harming fish.

I make no claims of support to the second point, though the first one is certainly a valid criticism. Fortunately for the West, their weakness is possibly cured by their strength. They are running out of water, but they could supply the entire nation with solar power if they wanted, so getting power for water shouldn't be out of the question, it just won't be cheap.

I'll let you know when I find a report on it.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Waste Management to spend billions on recycling and waste to energy plants.

The coming of LEDs...they're starting to find their way into mainstream life.

New Zealand declares 10 year moratoriam on coal.

Arctic ice disappearing faster than IPCC projected.

FERC looks to speed up licensing for tidal and wave power stations.

Some info you can use when arguing the value of SUVs...they aren't always safer.

Okay, what the hell is wrong with these people? Indiana issues yet another permit to allow massive increases in pollution to Lake Michigan.

How destroying the oceans will come back to haunt us - quote of the day.

Sorry I've gone a few days without updates. I'm back in the game now.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I've never understood the "SUV's are safer" rhetoric. How is a massive vehicle with a high center of gravity safer than a light vehicle with good cornering ability and a short stopping distance?
Posted by rollainm (Member # 8318) on :
When that massive vehicle smashes into the side of the lighter one because the driver was too busy talking on his cell phone to pay attention to the light. (I witnessed this a few months ago while pumping gas)
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Which proves that larger vehicles are better at killing people than smaller vehicles. Consider the same collision between two large vehicles, and again between two small vehicles.
Posted by rollainm (Member # 8318) on :
Oh I agree. I should have specified that it was the driver of the larger vehicle, an SUV, who was not paying attention.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Actually that was clear from your post, and I got the idea that we were in agreement about SUVs in general.
Posted by rollainm (Member # 8318) on :
Ah. Cool. [Smile]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New Yorkers get a taste of new microturbine hybrid bus.

What a gas tax might look like in the not so distant future.

Despite big obstacles, the cement industry tries its best to reduce pollution.

New faucet is fancy, user friendly, and above all, could drastically reduce water use.

Sorry it's a small update today, I don't know why but my computer is mind numbingly slow when it comes to the web lately. And I don't get why, as the web downloads as fast as it usually does, and my computer processes everything else just as fast as it normally does, but in the last week when it comes to actually juggling webpages and the net, switching from page to page has become infuriating, and the vein in my forehead can't take anymore tonight.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New 3D solar cells collect more energy, and can be put on windows without blocking light, making all windows potential sources of power.

Illinois inventor looks to make harnessing lightning strikes a viable power source.

New Dyson Airblade could save thousands of trees, and watts, by replacing something as simple as hand driers/paper towel in restrooms. New device is fast and efficient.

The National Security Space Office, a division of the United States' Department of Defense is pushing the US Gov. to get serious about space based solar power. India and China are already getting serious on the issue, and many in the government consider this a priority over asteroid defense and a manned Mars mission. They propose a 10MW starter program to spur private investment. Nice to see the government getting involved directly.

Finding money to Winterize your home. Energy efficiency upgrades that pay for themselves in the future can be discounted through special loans.

Paul Krugman talks about a carbon cap and trade system, and how past systems have helped solve environmental problems.

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South headed for a breakdown over water, and Atlanta in particular is in the crosshairs. Here's the question: Will they do something before they hit the danger zone? It appears that is unlikely.

Here's a little bit more on Atlanta's situation specifically. Lake Lanier, the main source of water for the city, could be dry in 90 days. What do you do when one of America's major metropolitan areas runs out of water?

Will this spark a major new discussion on water conservation in the United States? No. Will this spark an outcry over government inaction? Possibly. Why? Because as much as we decry government failures, and decry regulations and taxes, we still expect the government to ensure that when we flick a switch, the lights turn on, and water comes out of the spigot. What we don't expect, is that we'll have to do it by ourselves.

It's very simple, and I've been talking about it for awhile: We are using too much water, and we're less than a century away from some serious tipping points. Water is being drained at prodigious rates, and while some of it can be blamed on climate change, much of it is just us being stupid and consuming more than nature can replenish. And with the way America is going, we aren't going to get serious about it until we're literally dying of thirst.

[ October 16, 2007, 11:34 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
When my mom moved to Beverly Hills, FL she was appalled by the water rates at her new utility. They charge different rates based on how much you use with the lower rates going to the high volumes. So folks who conserve pay just as much as the folks who water their lawns during a rainstorm. Seeing the golf course getting watered during the drought always made her mad, too. I realize it's a business expense, but it's still looks unfair to folks who get mandated watering days.

I love the idea of lightning power. Tampa would be the perfect place to try them out; it's the lightning capital of North America.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
The White Whale, you might be interested in this: Nebraska opens a cellulosic ethanol plant that uses wood for a fuel source.

A look at leases for hybrids with gas only models shows that the hybrids lose value faster than their gas powered equivilants, with one exception, the Ford Escape Hybrid.

Norway considers banning all gas powered cars.

California decides against strict LEED based building codes, but passes almost a dozen other strong pro-environment bills. The Sierra Club is very happy.

Office Depot will make a 100 store recycling program nationwide. The 100 store program has already stopped 100,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, batteries, and similar electronics from making it into landfills.

The GAP embraces microgeneration.

A graphs tackles the comparison between nations who walk/take public transportation and nations who primarily drive and how it effects obesity levels. .

Chinese environmentalist jailed for outing pollution. Here's a good look at how two faced China is being. They are world's biggest polluter, yep, they passed up the US, and despite their rhetoric at the national level, there is zero follow up on the local level

Britian joins the Arctic claim game by laying claim to a 386,000 square mile chunk of seabed. Getting to resources in this particular area is technologically unfeasible at the present, but it's an interesting look at Britain planning for their future.

Massive bouy may provide up to 1MW per unit. There's a lot of different buoy designs out there in what is arguably the newest renewable energy format. Considering Wind, which has been around for well, centuries, is just now aspiring to 7.5MW, I think 1MW is pretty good for a wave powered buoy. Testing is still ongoing, but I have high hopes for wave power.

Featured Article
Second Earth found, only 20 light years away.

British scientists double capacity for hydrogen storage, but still only halfway to goal to make it feasible for cars.

PG&E to bring their first wind farm online soon.

Pacificorp to start construction on a second wind farm after success of their first one.

Featured Article
California to take solar water heating mainstream with huge new incentives bill.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
"Second Earth found" was news in April. Due to the greenhouse effect, it has since turned out that Gliese581d is more likely to be earthlike than Gliese581c

"Britain joins the Antarctic claim game." The link contains a useful map of territorial claims.

And FirstWorld biofuel crops causes more greenhouse gas emission than using the fossil fuel alterative due to fertilizer being converted into nitrous oxide.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
The race for resources thing is ridiculous. No one in the north or the south rightly has a serious territorial claim, it's all a big land grab, and everyone knows it. Russia, Canada, the US, and parts of Scandinavia are carving up the seabed of the north, and now it appears Argentina, New Zealand (yeah right), Australia, Great Britain (are they kidding?) and Chile are carving up the south. I'm waiting for South Africa to jump in the game too, but I wonder how New Zealand will get away with their claims when they have a military the size of the Alabama National Guard and the area they are claiming is several times the size of the land the currently possess.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Very good set of articles today. Only set me off on a couple rants, forgive me in advance...

Major investments in the US electrical grid needed to prevent nationwide outages in the very near future. This is one of those things we can fix if we start now, but knowing us, we'll wait until it's too late. Why? Infrastructure upgrades isn't a very sexy topic. It's expensive and no one wants to pay for it, but everyone expects it all to work.

Kaiser Permanante looks to Green hospitals around the US.

Ann Arbor, Michigan to intall 1,000 LED streelights. They expect to save $100,000 a year and expect a payback of almost four years, after which it's pure profit, plus a couple hundred tons of carbon out of the air.

A-maize-ing crop the silver bullet for biofuels? New science suggests that Maize, around since the day before forever, may be the best crop because it can be harvested easily with farm tools already owned, already is made up of sugar which simplifies the refining process, and can be easily switched out with beans or corn (plus it requires less fertilizer). I'd still need to see what the yields per hectare are, but it looks on the surface like a good bet.

What the future of water conservation en masse in the US South might look like...

How global warming could threaten US oil production

Solar Decathalon entry from Maryland shows how you can heat/cool your house...and have a great excuse to put a waterfall in your kitchen!

Featured Article
Possible landmark legislation has been introduced with a bipartisan bill to protect animals in the US that are endangered by global warming. This could be as powerful and incredible as the Endangered Species Act, and it's very impressive to them taking the initiative.

Utah sets goal of reducing power consumption 20% by 2015 through efficiency upgrades. Ambitious.

Scientists fear the ocean's will fail to suck up as much CO2 as they did after the last ice other words? We may be in more trouble than we though (which is amazing considering how much trouble we think we're in).

So how does Georgia want to solve their drought problems? Well your first answer would probably be: Conservation right? Use less water and there's more to go around. Sure that's sensible. Well what about changing price controls to hammer away at the big users of water so those who use more pay more, to encourage, again, conservation? Yeah that probably sounds good too. OR! You could SUSPEND THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT!? Yes, that's their brilliant idea. Don't use less water, don't adapt to the NEW REALITY OF WHERE YOU LIVE, instead you should not release water from resevoirs to help endangered species and instead hold that water back for personal consumption. And of course when THAT water runs out, and nuclear power plants stop working (yeah I've brought that up before too), Georgia will have no water, no power, and no one to blame but themselves.

[/Georgia drought rant]

Now this one is REALLY cool. The US has forgiven just over $20 million in debt to Costa Rica with the provision that Costa Rica spend that same amount of money on rainforest conservation! I LOVE this idea. It basically amounts to us paying for rainforest conservation, but I think this is a great way to protect the environment AND foster better international relations. Top notch idea Congress! The US US Tropical Forest Conservation Act is my friend.

US recycling industry is on the verge of a boom. Is it because we're all of a sudden all Treehuggers? NO! As always, it's because it is economically feasible to do so. The added side effect is that this is TREMENDOUSLY beneficial to the environment, keeping toxic materials out of landfills and stemming need to mine more from the Earth, but these materials are starting to become mighty scarce, and it makes sense to reuse what we've already got. Recycling isn't just for Mama Earth anymore, it's for Papa Wallet, because it's just good business.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Forbes names the top 5 Greenest states.

Motel 6 to retrofit over 7,000 hotel rooms to make them more energy efficient.

Gridpoint, a founder of Smart Grid technology has closed an almost $50 million deal financing deal with Goldman Sachs.

Canadian company convinces Home Depot to start carrying a heat recovery system that'll reduce your hot water heating costs.

And the Solar Decathalon winner is....

Early studies into ocean acidification show it's possible the ocean is becoming more acidic due to increased CO2 absorption, which may devastate coral growth, with potentially far reaching ecological impact.

A reminder: Tomorrow is "Lights Out San Francisco." If you live in or will be in the city tomorrow, you are asked to turn off all non-essential lighting between 8-9pm. Restaurants will be offering candlelight dinners in the city. Also, a national "Lights Out" day is being suggested for March 29th, 2008.

Chicago's mayor has endorsed a proposed 10 cent tax on all bottled water sold in the city. I've long been mixed on the idea, but I think it's a much better idea to have a bottle deposit, the same way all other bottles and cans are "taxed." If the idea is conservation, taxing won't do anything, but if people can recover that money, they'll start saving and recycling those bottles in greater numbers.

You may remember the post I made awhile back about a seaside pier for the 21st century, well the winner of that competition has been announced, and it looks pretty cool.

Featured Article
So what American state is the greenest? It's Vermont. The worst? West Virginia. The full ranking of all 50 states is here.
And here is where they talk about methodology and some explanations of this ranking.

An interesting finding I think, is that generally looking at this list, states that politicos would call blue are largely the greenest, and red are largely the pollut..iest. I guess Treehuggers are putting their efforts where their mouths are.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
And once again GM management proves that it's interested only in wrecking the environment.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
First of all, I don't think that's a fair assessment. The problem isn't with GM, the problem is with the biofuels industry. Fuel from plants isn't evil by nature, we just need to be sure we're doing it the best way possible until all electric all the time cars are feasible and have the infrastructure support they need.

Second of all, why are you singling GM out? Toyota, the most greenwashed car company on Earth has thrown millions in advertising and on their washington representatives to make sure the weakest possible measures are taken to incrase vehicle efficiency, to say nothing of the fact that they too build massive SUVs and trucks.

Third, GM is staking their future mostly on hybrids and PHEVs, you aren't representing the full truth, and I think you're just smearing them for the heck of it. Present the full truth and then your arguments if you want to be fair.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Preservationists struggle with sustainability advocates when they should join forces.

Invertebrates, an overlooked and much maligned group of species.

Study finds link between Green business and increased profits, but is wary of the lack of environmental reporting from many companies.

California draws a line in the sand with the EPA. Sierra Club and many other states jump on board. October 26th is showdown day.

Well you've seen links on here before that coal fired plants are being put back on the drawing board as energy companies are wary of new regulations. But for the first time, a government entity has denied a coal fired plant air permit citing CO2 as the reason. Kansas has this honor.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Funding for nanosolar skyrockets. (I should add, that's private investment). In this case it's $101 million for Heliostat, earned since August.

Sun Microsystems saves money and trees by posting reports online instead of printing endless reports. 90% of clients woudl rather view reports online.

More on California's solar boom. They hope to add 3GW of solar power to residential and commerical areas (that is, microgeneration) by the time their small scale solar program ends in 2016.

Some details on where the 2007 Energy Bill currently stands. It looks like Pelosi is dead set on pushing this through this year, but she faces opposition from Republicans and the White House. Pres. Bush wants them to sign off on dozens of new coal powered plants, but the burdgeoning renewable energy industry is exercising some clout and are pushing Congress to get a bill passed this year. The article highlights some sticking points, in that Democrats want rebates for home solar installation and tax breaks for renewable power. They also want to close tax breaks for oil companies.

Solar Power to Reach Parity with Fossil Fuels in Sunny Countries in Five Years, Most Countries by 2020
Solar power could be the world's number one electricity source by the end of the century . . . production of solar panels will double both next year and in 2009, according to U.S. investment bank Jefferies Group Inc, driven by government support especially in Germany and Japan. . . . costs are dropping by around 5 percent a year and "grid parity", without subsidies, is already a reality in parts of California. Very sunny countries could reach that breakeven in five years or so, and even cloudy Britain by 2020. . . . General Electric Co's Chief Engineer Jim Lyons told the Jefferies conference in London; "The solar industry will eventually be bigger than wind." . . . But all the growth is from a tiny base. The sun supplies just 0.3 percent of electricity even in market leader Germany, says Jefferies. "It doesn't even register statistically outside Germany," said Jefferies analyst Michael McNamara.

More later.....
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
I'm still reading this thread.

Yay Kansas! It's long since time we blocked construction of more coal-fired power plants. Now, if we could just stop building more ethanol plants. <sigh>
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Higher temperatures ruining the annual blossoming of fall color.

CO2 levels rising faster than even the most pessimistic guesses thought before, new study shows.

Wal-Mart hits goal early of selling 100 million CFLs in 2007.

Atlanta: A look at the future of natural disasters in the US. The point of this article is that even with an environmental disaster staring us in the face, chances are Americans will keep the status quo until it's too late, and then complain afterwards that no one did anything to solve the problem.

Good news for Lake Superior, 100 year record rainfall allays fears of a prolonged drought.

For your entertainment...
Remember popping bubble wrap as a kid (or adult)? Well, bubble wrap is bad for the environment, so here's your replacement. It's not as much fun as the real thing, but it's still fun.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
The Lake Lanier thing scares me. Even if the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't turn the water flow off to Apalachicola, the lake is going to run out. Then what happens to all this?

The region features 1,162 species of plants, and includes the largest natural stand of tupelo trees in the world. The area is also home to 308 species of birds, 186 species of fish, 57 species of mammals, and boasts the highest species density of amphibians and reptiles in all of North America, north of Mexico stated by the Apalachicola Reserve, 2002.
If the tupelo trees can't take the saltier water, it will cost beekeepers nearly a million dollars a year in lost honey revenue. The paper has also been saying the shellfish that are just starting to restabilize will be wiped out. This isn't just bad for Atlanta but everyone south of them, too.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
AR -

Where'd you get that from? Can you link us to more information? I've yet to read in detail about the effects the drought is having in indigenous wildlife, most of what I read deals with the missteps of the Georgian government and basically the politics of the situation.

Update for today:

DoD looks to spend big defense bucks on contracts to develop hybrids and all electric vehicles. I've posted on this before, but the military is ramping up spending on battery tech, to make war clean, efficient, and deadly silent. Of course the upside for us, is that this is the same technology that many private companies are already working on, which means the DoD will help subsidize battery technology for the US, making EVs and PHEVs much more realistic in the near term, mass produced.

GE spends $1 billion on R&D for green energy tech. Investments are expected to top one and a half billion every year from 2008-2010.

On the heels of that comes this: GE has sold $1 billion worth of their turbines this year. Personally I'd like to see the 7.5MW turbines sold, but hopefully some of those big R&D dollars will help get them there soon.

California on the verge of making it easier for smaller renewable start ups to get onto the grid by helping with T&D funding.

CO2 growth in the atmosphere is happening 30% faster than scientists guessed it would in 2000. Blame is on human contributions and the Earth being less efficient. I think I might have posted this yesterday, so if I did, sorry for the repeat.

FedEx brings diesel/electric hybrid vans to Europe.

Alabaman and Georgian governors fight over water. I bet you all know what I'm going to say, but I'm with Alabama here. Georgia was irresponsible with their suburban planning and their water resources, and now they are paying the price for it. Or rather, they are trying to make local wildlife pay the price for it. They should have planned ahead but they didn't, and this is what happens. I think they should get help, but a total bailout will just ensure that this happens again.

Teaching kids about how climate change makes for wild weather (plus it just looks cool!)

Quote of the day: Science fiction comes to life: How our chemically laden society is causing fewer boys to be born.

Denmark and Sweden go to war!...over who is the most eco-friendly.

In pictures: California wildfires.

More later...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Part 2:

CA Wildfires pose serious health threat from soot as air quality plummets past already horrible levels.

More than just animals downstream of Atlanta to keep in mind when discussing whether or not to discharge water from dams. While I don't have a ton of sympathy for water intensive industries, everyone should be working together to reduce water consumption. There's also a nuclear plant that might not be able to run due to lack of water (something I've warned about before).

A little style for your green world: A beautiful backgammon set made of recycled glass.

How NOT to save the planet.

Earth could lose half of its species to global warming (on the bright side, when the planet cools again we'll get more diverse).
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
The local paper wants to make me pay for their online version, but I found this at News Herald. It's the same info.

En route, the flow is used by numerous communities, two power plants and three endangered species.
The three biggest roadblocks to dropping the rate of flow are the fat three-ridge mussel, purple bankclimber mussel and gulf sturgeon, a fish. All three are endangered species and carry a federal mandate that the water release rate be maintained.
The Florida DEP were the ones worried about the oysters, further down on the page.

The power plants are a bit sticky, too. There's nothing to protect them. The coal plant in Sneads is a surge protector that powers about 15,000 homes regularly. The nuclear plant in Alabama is a 600 MW facility, but they don't think Atlanta can drop the flow lower than what they need to operate. I notice they don't mention a contingency in case the water runs out completely.

The Gainesville Times has a whole different take. They think the ACoE is releasing too much water for the drought and should scale it back. Unfortunately for them, the flow was decided back in 2003 under Jeb until 2040. From the State Website. I don't know that they can actually do anything about it.

[Edit to fix link.]

[ October 25, 2007, 06:48 AM: Message edited by: AvidReader ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Oh, the original stats for the Apalachicola Bay I got from Wiki.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
You've seen my links recently for skyscrapers with farms, but Mumbai is taking it to way, way higher heights.

Investment in the Green sector jumps to $1.7 trillion just in the third quarter of 2007.

France's new president remake his nation's green image and calls for "Green revolution."

Featured Article
New technology turns regular water into powerful cleaning agent without the chemicals. This thing looks amazing, though I fear many will perceive it as a gimmick (which I hope it isn't).

Looking to nature to improve solar power efficiency.

New windows promise big boon in effiency for homes.

New industry report expects market for green homes to explode from $2 billion to $20 billion in five years.

More science news than Green news, but it's still cool: new telescope being tasked to take pictures of the surface of the sun.

On preparing for the worst.

American National Forests "OK" for the most part.

Prince Charles on Deforestation.

Another article on airships. Frankly I'm warming to the idea. I wouldn't mind flying somewhere, slow and easy, but Greenly, in one of those.
Hey look at that, the president is editing science to fit his policies again! Shocker!

The War over Water is heating up in several states, not just Georgia.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
3.7 billion gallons of water are "lost" by power plants every day. But the water doesn't really go anywhere. It evaporates, condenses, and comes back as rain.

I can't find how much of that is fresh water vs. salt. Cause evaporating salt water and getting fresh rain water seems like a good thing to me. I would think the power plants are only hurting the water supply if they're evaporating fresh drinking water that isn't falling back in the same area.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
As mentioned in the comment upon the article, that 27floors in 60stories-of-height Mumbai skyscraper is the opposite of Green.

It doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to build blimps and dirigibles when there ain't gonna be enough helium to lift them. Thing is helium leaks through everything, so ya hafta replenish it on a regular basis. And when helium supplies become low, the resulting high price of a fillup would ground the fleet.

And an interesting link from the War over Water,
"Progress Energy on Tuesday resumed operating the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in Wake County after a 24-day outage for routine refueling. The outage coincidentally turned out to be a much-needed water conservation measure, saving about 375 million gallons of water that would have evaporated if the power plant had been using water for cooling during normal operations."
ie The nuclear plant directly evaporates 15.6million gallons per day out of its intake of "...33 million gallons of water daily..."
So 17.4million gallons of heated "Water that doesn't evaporate is released back into Harris Lake." raising the lake temperature, and thereby increasing the lake's overall rate of evaporation.
"By comparison, customers of the city of Durham water system use an average of 28 million gallons a day."
Like TreeHugger says: ...trolls constantly complain that 'solar power only works when the sun shines,' or remind us that 'wind power is only good when the wind blows.' Here's the and wind power don't need cooling water.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
It doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to build blimps and dirigibles when there ain't gonna be enough helium to lift them. Thing is helium leaks through everything, so ya hafta replenish it on a regular basis. And when helium supplies become low, the resulting high price of a fillup would ground the fleet.
When I worked for Praxair, I heard a number of people discussing the idea of returning to the use of hydrogen to lift dirigibles. At the time the "rocket fuel dirigible skin" hypothesis was newer, and sounded pretty reasonable, given that it was assumed that all the ingredients were applied in the same coat.

Anyway, the discussion revolved around the idea that hydrogen was cheaper, and also has greater lift than helium. I proposed that if you mixed helium with hydrogen, you could reduce or eliminate the flamability of the hydrogen, and gain lift overall.

Several years later, in a discussion of helium asphyxiation, I suggested that helium for balloons should be mixed with 21% oxygen, so that if people inhaled helium to make their voice sound funny, they wouldn't be inhaling a dangerously inert gas. I also pointed out that helium is way more expensive than oxygen, so it would reduce the overall cost of the gas, and people wouldn't notice the loss of lift in a balloon, since all they care about is whether the balloon floats or not.

Later on in the discussion, I discovered that the greatest single use for helium is for balloons, which seemed like a tremendous waste of such an important gas.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I can't find how much of that is fresh water vs. salt. Cause evaporating salt water and getting fresh rain water seems like a good thing to me. I would think the power plants are only hurting the water supply if they're evaporating fresh drinking water that isn't falling back in the same area.
I'm not aware of any utility using salt water for cooling. It would be very complex and expensive, because salt is highly corrosive, and would not only damage equipment, but it would also accumulate as a solid as the water evaporated, which would require clean up and maintentance.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
First off -

The Mumbai tower isn't the opposite of green. Compared to urban sprawl, it's a paragon of green, but I haven't seen the details of it's construction and what sort of technologies they are using. It could be wasteful, or it could be extremely efficient. A city full of 60 story tall 27 story skyscrapers is still vastly more efficient and green than a city full of single family 1,200 square foot homes.

On helium -

Yeah, I heard that story on NPR the other day. I had no idea helium came from such a limited number of places...basically one, and that it was running out so fast. But I've no fear of not being able to find SOMETHING to lift those ships with. Science will find a way.

On water -

Amen to that.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
The plant where my dad worked in Crystal River drew its water from the Gulf of Mexico. Manatee live in our outake canal in the winter because its warm. I believe the other two nuke plants down near Miami draw theirs from the Atlantic. And while that warm water is bad for many species, it's great for shrimp. My dad used to joke that you could cut a steak from the shrimp at the Turkey Point plant.

If I remember the process right, the water turned into steam is seperate from both the coolant water and the water in the containment pool. The coolant water circulates through pipes that never come into contact with radioactive material. I'm guessing if the salt is bad, it must just move through quickly so it doesn't accumulate anywhere. I'll have to ask my dad.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Yeah, I heard that story on NPR the other day. I had no idea helium came from such a limited number of places...basically one, and that it was running out so fast. But I've no fear of not being able to find SOMETHING to lift those ships with. Science will find a way.

There is a simple solution to the dirigible problem: hydrogen. After all, the Hindenberg operated for a fairly long time without blowing up. It's just a matter of solving few safety problems.

The real problem is for uses where there is no substitute for helium, such as processes that require near zero absolute temperature, or nuclear fusion, and so forth.

There are other sources of helium outside the U.S. and it isn't well known how abundant it is in those locations. Algeria currently produces a fair amount of helium, and there may be significant reserves in untapped natural gas fields in Siberia, but we don't know. Also, helium that's separated from natural gas in the U.S. is stored underground in a natural salt dome. That's an awfully convenient geological feature. We actually separate it and then pump it underground for storage. In other locations, once it comes up, it may have to stay up or be stored in man made containers until it's used.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Update for the day:

GM announces there will be virtually no price premium for their new Yukon hybrid. Looks like they were serious about eating the sticker shock.

Honda's answer to the Prius: Their dedicated hybrid.

PG&E soon to boast over a gigawatt of wind power.

Silicon Valley's newest electric car startup focuses on infrastructure, not vehicles.

Arizona's untapped renewable potential.

USDA to create new regulations for labels on meat that can be called "grass fed." Better for you, better for the cows, and better for the environment.

China claims they will spend $14 billion to clean up one of their most polluted sites. It also happens to be their third largest fresh water lake and a source of water for millions.

Designers lured to LEDs, see CFLs as an interim technology until prices become friendly. Either way, incandescents are a thing of the past.

The coming climate change could have devastating effects on crops. It might not be that bad, it depends entirely on how we act over the next 100 years. But it's a warning that change is needed.

The future of the war over water: The South and Southwest vs. The Great Lakes States. You all know how I feel about this one, so I'll save the lecture this time around.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
Well, this is depressing.
"There are no major issues," the report's authors write of the period since their first report in 1987, "for which the foreseeable trends are favorable."
The report is the United Nation's Environmental Program's (UNEP) Global Environment Outlook
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Wal-Mart's claimed commitment to change. I don't disbelieve them, considering the efforts they've made recently to reduce use, but greening their supply chain, which is the biggest evil, will be a monumental task, maybe even impossible.

The next big things in Green tech. (the up and coming companies in the biz)

"In the absence of Federal leadership..." Individual US States are joining with the international community (Western Europe and parts of Oceana) to create a global GHG cap and trade system.

Berkley California comes up with new system of paying for home solar power systems. Frankly I don't get how this works, so I'd be thrilled if someone could read this article and explain it to me:

The City of Berkeley, California is set to become the first city in the U.S. to allow property owners to pay for solar system installation and energy efficiency improvements as a long-term assessment on their individual property tax bill.
Deal between MEMC and Conenergy could be boon for both in solar wafers, and could mean grid parity for solar power by 2014 in some places.

This one will sound a bit weird...but Canada is building a pyrolosis plant that will turn diapers into two valuable byproducts and one inert one (gas, oil, and char). Now that's thinking outside the box.

California's Vampire Slayers Act aims to combat a growing US problem: Electronics on standby that suck power from the grid.

660,430: the amount in gallon of water that every person in the US uses per year. Pretty ridiculous isn't it? Gets worse when you look at what other nations are using, and what our water future looks like.

On the heels of that, I'll give you this article on grey water recycling systems.

Major source of methane emissions discovered near Arctic lake. May explain the sharp spike in emissions detected this year. The blame? Melting permafrost due to higher temperatures.

A New Jersey university shows off its fancy new composting system. It highlights a problem coming in NJ: In a couple decades they will have no undeveloped space left, making each new landfill created by wasteful practices all the more important.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
IBM has developed a process for scrubbing waste silicon wafers clean then reusing them and eventually recycling the chips into solar panels. These are internal scrap chips at manufacturing plants--hopefully old chips can be/already are recycled into solar panels.
Via slashdot
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Short form entry today, I need to sleep:

Trash into waste

First batteries arrive for testing at Chevy for the Volt.

More details on Berkley plan

GE helps people monitor their water and power use (read this one)

Citigroup says automakers can profit from new CAFE

More articles on that silicon recycling that's mentioned above.
And here.

Tidal power for Nova Scotia

London 2012 Olympics

Dangers of food to fuel

First LEED Platinum office building in New York City, Hooray!

Uh oh. Peak Coal? I don't know if I buy it or not, there's so many other factors, and this is only for Appalachia I think, but still, interesting.

Featured Article
The New Era of water conservation.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :,1,2401844.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


Cached for later discussion

[ November 11, 2007, 02:21 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I talked to my dad today. Apparently, there's two different water systems in the plant he works at. The salt water runs through the pipes very quickly and only heats up a little bit. It is corrosive, but they have a team of a hundred or so maintence folks who keep an eye on the pipes. The water that turns into steam is ultra-purified fresh water. A plant out in Arizona actually uses gray water from Pheonix for its steam power.

It is the fresh water that's lost to leaks and bleeding off the excess steam, but I'm not sure how much of that comes from drinking water sources. They're probably not evaporating much of the water that other people need.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
aspectre -

It's not a surprise. Internationally GM is doing just fine. Their only losing market is the US, but they're doing big business in Europe and Asia.

Small update -

Ford Fusion and Mercury Milano hybrids coming.

Big Solar passes it's first hurdle in California.

And on that note, yet another company has announced a plan to build a big solar plant in CA. Thankfully, this one will be built very close to already built transmission lines, and not in the middle of nowhere.

GE to add jobs and big investments in their renewable sector.

Major production advance achieved in silicone production for solar cells.

Wave of Green investments spurred by Wall Street confidence in Green Sector.

GM's Bob Lutz sees 60,000 to 100,000 Volts in 2010.

New US Gov website unveiled to give information on drought conditions.

Excessive CO2 dissolved in oceans may spell the end for shellfish by the century's end.

Neither here nor there, but I thought this was clever.

Bad news for the Great Lakes.

A sneak peak at what power in drought ridden states might cause in the future, and another small piece of the EPA's ineptitude.

Featured Article
A list of 50 different companies and how they've made money by helping the environment.

A bigger article on the subject.

[ November 05, 2007, 12:18 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Five days since I updated! I feel horrible! But fear not, I got back into it just in time for a lot of really great articles.

Califnornia pulls the trigger and sues the EPA over tailpipe emissions.

Governors join with computing giants to spread Green changes to state spending on computers.

Democrats gut Energy Bill of most Renewable Energy measures. Big giveaway to polluters, nothing for renewables. I should have known.

Creating a 21st century Transmission and Distribution network for electricity in the US.

British Columbia installs tibal power generators.

LEDs are finally here and ready to go, and they're making a big splash.

Energy Star ups the ante on efficiency.

Liquid solar panels 50% cheaper to produce, and moldable to any form.

Recycling CFLs by mail.

Green power on Wall street is cashing in some mega green for investors .

Part II to follow later tonight.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Part II

The EPA now has a question and answer site where you can ask them questions and they get back to you on a weekly basis in a town hall style online session. Transcripts available at the link.

Everglades restoration in peril.

New hotel to be Greenest around. Will have monorail connection to airport, renewable energy power plant, and more. I hope to visit someday. Kind of weird that it's in Syracuse, not a place I picture as a big place to build a half billion dollar complex, but I've always thought it looked like a beautiful city.

Contentious plan aims to fix the ocean's acididty problems.

Ann Arbor, MI experiments with selling collected rain water.

The end destination of the US's electronic waste.

Stairway to Heaven: A mundane topic, but here are some designs for some pretty cool stairways. Taking the stairs saves on power (though not ALL of these) and is better for your health! For some designs, using stairs as storage space is also more sustainable.

An older article but: Where the candidates stand on renewable power and Greening the nation. You'll notice a lack of Republicans on this list, no surprise. It's not Treehugger's fault, it's theirs.

More evidence that coal is bad for you: Don't go fishing downstream of a coal plant.

Debunking five commonly used Global Warming arguments. OSC likes at least two of these.

Nature decides to create a river, and doesn't let a road stand in it's way: Pretty picture show.

And now the biggie, to which merits a full quotation and multiple articles:

As many as 1 out of 4 workers in the United States will be working in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries by 2030, according to a new jobs report from the American Solar Energy Society (ASES).

The renewable energy and energy efficiency industries today generate nearly $1 trillion in revenue in the U.S., contributing more than $150 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state, and local levels.

"The green collar job boom is here," said Neal Lurie, Director of Marketing of ASES.

By the year 2030, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries could generate up to $4.5 trillion in revenue in the U.S., but only with the appropriate public policy. This would include a renewable portfolio standard, renewable energy incentives, public education, and R&D.

The 40 million jobs that could be created in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030 are not just engineering-related, but also include millions of new jobs in manufacturing, construction, accounting, and management. Currently, there are 8.5 million jobs that have spawned from the renewable energy industries.

According to ASES, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries today generate nearly $1 trillion in revenue in the U.S., contributing more than $150 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state, and local levels.


WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 9, 2007 -- The renewable energy and energy efficiency industries stand to add millions of jobs and pump trillions of dollars in revenues during the next twenty years, according to a new research report.

"Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Economic Drivers for the 21st Century," from the American Solar Energy Society, said that as many as one in four workers could work in these fields by 2030.

The industries currently generate about 8.5 million green collar jobs and almost $1 trillion in revenue, the report found. That could increase to 40 million jobs and $4.5 trillion in revenues "with the appropriate public policy, including a renewable portfolio standard, renewable energy incentives, public education and research and development," the report said.

"The green collar job boom is here," said ASES's Neal Lurie. "Renewable energy and energy efficiency are economic powerhouses."

The report predicted that solar, wind, ethanol and fuel cells will be future hot areas of growth.

The report comes a week after General Electric Power Generation announced it would invest $39 million and hire 500 workers for a renewable energy division expansion in upstate New York.

Some states, such as California, have mandated that renewables comprise a larger percentage of their energy portfolios.


And yet for some reason, the new Energy Policy Act specifically removes some of the portions necessary to promote growth in this industry. What the hell is wrong with people?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Portland Oregon considers a tariff/reward system for new buildings and construction.

Slow weekend! I'll update again on Monday.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Al Gore on "30 Rock" Hilarious. "Quiet...a whale is in trouble...I have to go!"

DOE invests almost $30 million in companies trying to create the next generation of solar materials. Chump change considering the money flying around the industry, and compared to what Germany is spending, but still nice.

Xerox diverted almost 11 billion pounds of e-waste from landfills in 2007, recycling or reusing most of it. And they saved $2 billion in the process.

Scientists use computers to speed up evolution and build a more efficient plant.

Come visit one of America's top 10 Farmer's Markets.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
San Francisco oil spill clean up effort fails to take advantage of internet resources to coordinate relief work.

Study finds California is way ahead of the game on clean tech and climate change tech, while the Federal government lags far behind.

UPS introduces new smaller electric delivery trucks.

Industry leaders say Renewable Energy benefits for the new Energy Bill are not off the table. But the White House doesn't seem keen on negotiating, as usual.

Iceland experiments with drilling deeper to produce energy from geothermal wells.

Altairnano gets defense dollars to work on lithium batteries.

IBM to spend a billion dollars on investments in green power savings for server farms to reduce energy use.

Part II later....
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
First commercial algae facility announced.

Scientists and the IPCC release counterclaim to top ten most oft used attacks on global warming as influenced by humans.

Adding iron to the ocean to produce huge algae blooms still remains a controversial temporary solution to global warming.

UPS in Atlanta switches to washing their trucks without water.

For those with an old school radiator, here's a neat little doodad to make your home more efficient.

Quote of the day - Jill Cooper on One Use Washing.

The rain in spain falls mostly...on irrigated farms apparently. A new system in Spain aims to cut irrigation and save Spain 1.3 trillion gallons of water a year.

Featured Article
USDA loophole allows companies to sell E Coli contaminated food so long as it has a "cook only" label on it.

Spills in the Black Sea called worst for region in years.

Lack of US Government support for renewable energy means foreign powers will still control our energy future, but it'll be Europe instead of the Middle East.

Fresno State University installs 1.1MW solar array and generates 40% of their own yearly power needs. Embrace Microgeneration, it is your friend.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Not much to update today.

New news about the Chevy Volt. Other Chevy news: at the LA Auto Show, Chevy won green car of the year for their full sized SUV the hybrid Tahoe. Their full sized SUV, which sacrifices nothing for power, gets the same city gas mileage as a Toyota Camry 4 cylinder. The Volt will for sure be produced in 2010.

China to spend $3 billion on clean up projects.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A depressing look at the future of coal use in the world. It's here to stay.

China on track to meet or beat renewable energy goals.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Most green marketing campaigns are not true.

And some more information on that story with a breakdown of the Six Sins of Greenwashing.

Japan sends out whaling fleet to kill Humpback Whales.

US and WWF in a somewhat rare partnership call for a 3-5 year ban on bluefin tuna fishing worldwide in order to stave off an imminent collapse of world stocks.

Australia is named world's worst CO2 emitter per capita.

Al and Arnold are planning a debate for presidential candidates over energy and climate change. Great alliance.

New energy monitor uses colors to alert homeowners of their power use.
New database unveiled that details locations, with maps and numbers of world's power plants and their emissions.

Featured Articles:
Study analyzes the state of how the US spends its money on the energy industry. The news? Renewables get the shaft while fossil fuels and nuclear get most of the pie.

Smart Freshman Congressmen inject new life into the Energy Bill for renewables.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Most consumers do not understand green terms.

Unorthodox solution to clean up oil spills? San Fran clean up crews are looking to hair and mushrooms.

California fires first major salvo of what could be a slew of lawsuits against toy manufacturers for lead.

Carbon Offsets get a cetfifiable standard. It's about time this kind of thing came along, but the requirements had better be stringent. Planting trees in the wrong part of the planet can do more harm than good. They need to pay careful attention to who they give certification to.

New technology might make Hydrogen a more realizable fuel source than ethanol in the near future. The gist of the report? Cellulosic ethanol is 10 years away. But a new technology makes the energy conversion process of hydrogen 288% efficient, as opposed to the current 40-50% efficiency we currently get. In other words, making hydrogen used to take twice as much energy as we got back out of it, which meant it was a net energy LOSS, making it less of a power source and more of a power loser or energy storage system at best. This new tech could really change how we look at hydrogen, and could actually turn it into a power source.

US oil reserves drop on fewer new discoveries, but natural gas rises to new high.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Climate change a major factor in the election of a new Prime Minister in Australia. (the other is probably the war and Howard's friendship with Pres. Bush)

US intracity mass transit is falling apart (in other words, our subways are 100 years old and are dangerous to ride on)

Featured Article
Bills introduced in Congress to effectively ban incandescent lightbulbs. If it passes, which it might, it would take effect around 2012-2014. It's hard to argue against it. The three major suppliers of bulbs actually support the less stringent measure (as do I), and this isn't at all unprescedented. It was the energy efficiency changes made in the 80's that have allowed our economy and nation to becomes comparatively lean and much more flexible. This could realize huge national energy savings, and spur the growth of the LED market. Kudos to Congress on a really bold move. I'd also add that the more common complaints againt CFLs, that is, that people just don't like the sterile white light they give off, aren't so much valid anymore, as they make CFLs that give off the same yellow or "warm" light that incandescents do.

Follow this link to a pretty cool artist rendering of holiday air travel from Thanksgiving.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Have they gotten CFLs to stop giving people headaches? The idea of having to go to the doctor and get a prescription for incandescants is a little silly. Though I'd be ok with the ban once LEDs are available so people don't have to hurt themselves for the environment.
Posted by imogen (Member # 5485) on :
Lyrhawn beat me to it, but it's worth repeating.

Kevin Rudd elected PM of Australia: our government will now ratify Kyoto .

It's about time!

It will be interesting to see if this has any impact on the US position.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
AR -

I should have added more to clear up some misconceptions. First off, I said effectively because they don't outright ban incandescent technology, they create energy efficiency standards just like CAFE for MPG on cars or for what products get Energy Star ratings on washers and driers.

GE has recently developed a new High Efficiency Incandescent that gets nearly the same efficiency as a CFL, but it's still an incandescent, and these would not be outlawed under bills passed in California or Canada to regulate efficiency, or in the less stringent US Congressional bill.

As far as headaches go, near as I can tell they've fixed, or nearly fixed the problems. CFLs don't flicker anymore, as the newer ones use electronic ballasts, not magnetic ballasts, so they cycle more. They also don't all have that harsh white light, and are available in a wide variety of colors. I've seen an incandscent next to a CFL and haven't been able to readily tell the difference. But a very small number of people might still have a problem with them, and for those people there ARE alternatives to CFLs that would still meet the requirements, and I think in five or so years, LEDs will begin to creep into the home use mass market, as will GE's HEI bulbs, so people won't be without options.

On Australia -

It's EXTREMELY welcomed news [Smile] Ratifying Kyoto at this point is more symbolic than effective, as it it's on the verge of expiring. I think the real good news there is Australia's decision to go to the Bali meeting. Hopefully this will put additional pressure on the US to act sooner rather than later. Australia recently was announced the worst CO2 polluter per capita in the world.

But I've said it befoe and I'll say it again, there WILL be a emissions regulation bill passed by the US government before the end of the decade. I think Republicans realize they can't shoot it down all together, but there's a big question on both sides: Democrats can wait until 2009 and hope they win the White House, at which point they will be able to command the issue and pass nearly whatever climate bill they want, and that's what many are doing. But if they lose, Republicans will be in a much better position to stymie the issue and shoot down a Democratic Congress. Republicans have the other problem, in that they generally fear a Democratic victory in 2009, and are thus much more willing right now to get the absolute best deal they can before the election, but many fear giving away too much before knowing if they can stunt the measure.

All in all, I think Pres. Bush, Australia's past administration, and even recent statements from Japan are all good points: Excluding India and China makes everything being done unfair and somewhat useless. If the whole first world changed but China and India ramp up to replace our losses, then all we've done is manage to not pollute WORSE than we already were, and that's not good enough. They must be included, and since both of them are in the 8-10% range for economic growth every year, and have huge trade surpluses, I don't really feel that bad for them. If anything they have it better off. They're currently building infrastructure from the ground up, and it'd be cheaper for them to Green up NOW, rather than do it AFTER the whole thing is in place like we are.

Bali MUST insist that China and India be included in binding changes. I think if they were, Republicans in Congress and the WH would have very little fire to work with in refusing to make the changes. Their other arguments about the economy are already laughable, and individual states are on the verge of removing this argument from the national scene anyway. It's in the best interests of the rest of the world to insist in Bali on the inclusion of those two states.

Kudos to Australia on making a change for the better.

[ November 26, 2007, 09:34 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Hooray for standards for lightbulbs. We use an awful lot of those, so it makes sense to start there. As for CO2 standards, I think China and India are a lot more likely to control theirs than we are. We'd need to dismantle the way our cities and suburbs are put together and basically rebuild the country. They can learn from our mistakes and go with a more European infastructure.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
That's not 100% true, but there's something to it. China and India WOULD benefit from taking what we've done and what Europe has done and use only the best models in their own cities, but they suffer from the fact that their countries are huge and their people spread out over vast areas, a problem that European countries do NOT share, in that they are much more like the US.

The US can fix a lot of the problems that they have without tearing everything down and starting over, they just need to remodel a lot and make sure all their new builds fit into a more sustainable development. You're already starting to see that in the building of more roundabouts and less four way intersections, because they save on fuel and cut down on accidents.

But a new Chinese coal plant comes online every week. I'm not as sure about India, they're a bit further behind China at the moment. But I see legislation coming through Congress on carbon limits in the next few years, and I don't see that happening in China. It will take world pressure to get them to cave, and we should take this opportunity to get on the right side for a change.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Lots of great stuff today. Part II to follow.

LED Road Studs drastically reduce car accidents, and take roads off the grid. These are little solar powered LED dots in the road that tell you where the road is, reducing accidents and giving drivers more time to react.

The Federal Trade Commission will be taking another look at rules made in 1998 that define how companies may market themselves as Green. This announcement comes a year ahead of time, and is a likey a response to all the green ads we've seen lately.

Chicago announces limited success and future plans to make their alleyways Green. From what I've read, it looks pretty good.

Looking at solutions to the mounting piles of trash in America: Part I and Part II. Good reports. I'd like to see more on thermopolymerization (I think I got that right), which is basically turning trash into water, oil, and dirt. But I think the test facilities are still having problems. I haven't heard anything on them in awhile.

Europe mulls possible HVDC Supergrid that would crisscross Europe and drastically cut their CO2 emissions. This is what the United States needs to do, and sooner or later we will HAVE to address this issue. With the vast renewable energy opportunities that lie all over this country, but the changing face of where the population lives, we will have no problem with providing energy for everyone in this country via renewables, but the problem will be GETTING IT TO THEM. A new American High Voltage Direct Current system will get that power to everyone quickly with limited transmission loss. It will require a lot of work, and for Americans used to an AC network, it'll probably require a lot of changes and money, but this is one of those difficult but necessary fixes that will make life MUCH easier in the long run. Let's get started now.

Google's Green Gamble. Google is no stranger to the Green game, but now they are diving in head first, with plans to spend millions on investments and millions more on R&D. Their overall goal? To make renewable energy cost less than coal, which they call RE<E.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
True, but how far do people really travel? Most days, I only go 4.3 miles down the road to work and back. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to drive there, and there's no bike lane or shoulder. I only need the infastructure to let me not drive my car around town. The occasional car trip to see the folks isn't going to hurt much.

Other than giving us sidewalks and mixing residential with retail lots, I don't know much about setting it up so we don't have to drive everywhere. I can't even figure out why the buses were so much better in Gainseville than they are here in Tally. I just miss not having to drive everywhere.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
That's happening in a lot of places, but mostly you're seeing it in California, but also now in New York. Citizen groups are demanding that municipalities rebuild the roads to include mandatory HOV lanes (and now car sharing lanes), and mandatory biking lanes, as well as much stiffer penalties for drivers that injure bike riders, and more rights for riders in general since it's becoming a blood bath out there for a lot of them.

Most people travel less than 15 miles per day in their cars, on average. You're starting to also see hybrid buses work their way into the mainstream too, currently only in test cities, but mixing commercial with residential is still difficult for a few reasons. On one hand some people are iffy in it, because we've so rarely had it outside of cities like New York, and on the other hand, a lot of cities have rules that don't allow for that to happen anyway. Rules need to be changed, and people need to get used to it, and then it will catch on. We have it a lot more often now in Royal Oak where I live, as downtown becomes more and more trendy, old stores are being knocked down (which is kind of sad) and medium rise buildings are coming in.

A lot of this is just going to take time to come into the mainstream. People set in their ways don't like seeing the way things have worked for 50 years changed.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Gray water systems in every home and business. How it works.

From the guy who brought you "30 Days" and "Supersize Me" comes a new documentary on America's overconsumption during the holidays: "What Would Jesus Buy?" I haven't seen it, and the link is to the trailer, but it looks funny and interesting. Which is more than I can say for Supersize Me.

Faced with a crushing drought, Atlanta debates gray water.

Picture of the day: Europe at night.

America + Green + Holidays = Some pretty good numbers according to recent polls

Possible deal on CAFE standards in the offing.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Expect an announcement in the coming days about a deal in Congress over the Energy Bill.

Baking soda saves the world? Why not?

New concrete is completely recyclable.

HP installs solar array on corporate headquarters and earns Green cred as well as green in the bank.

Texas a wind powered juggernaut, and they're only just getting started.

New process for refining heavy oil could make it very profitable. Canada rejoices.

New technology makes LION batteries smaller, lighter and safer.

Solar showdown in Congress over the new Energy Bill could have a big effect on the near future of Big Solar in the US.
Posted by imogen (Member # 5485) on :
It's been done: Our new PM has signed off on ratifying Kyoto.

Woo hoo!
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Just in time to give Australia a welcomed position at the Bali negotiations. I think Pres. Bush lost a serious ally when Howard got booted. He's more or less all alone in the conference now.

I'll do an update later today.
Posted by zgator (Member # 3833) on :
Lryhawn, just so you know, concrete is already recyclable. It's crushed up and used as base material for roadways. Looking over Hycrete's website, it seems that they make an admixture for concrete which makes it waterproof rather than having to add a coating. It's the coating that can make the concrete unrecyclable. It sounds like Hycrete has just made sure that waterproof concrete can also be recycled.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Ah, thanks for the clarification. Any idea on how much of a gain that really is?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Xerox meets GHG reduction goals six years early and sets new higher goals to meet. Their reduction in energy use has saved then $18 million, and they still plan further reductions with aggressive growth.

US and EU consider tariff free Green trade agreement.

US Steel plans $1 billion environmental upgrade.

The Department of Energy plans small investments in renewable energy

Canadian company gets funding, aims for 45% efficient solar panels.

Featured Article
Geothermal, long untapped in the United States though it has vast amounts of potential power, now has a much cheaper option available to find potential sites. Expensive drilling has long been geothermal's biggest drawback, but that may no longer be the case.

The internet could save millions of tons of CO2

More designs for New Orleans' houses.

Some are on floats, some on stilts.

EU looks for as much as one sixth of their power from solar.
Posted by zgator (Member # 3833) on :
Ah, thanks for the clarification. Any idea on how much of a gain that really is?
I don't think much. Most of the concrete construction I'm familiar with isn't waterproofed. Concrete, by it's nature, is water resistant and I think for most applications that's enough.

Still, every bit helps and if it can be mixed directly with the concrete rather than someone having to do it later, it'll save on labor costs.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Nellis Air Force Base gets majority of power from new solar array, saves money in the process.

Produce more by using less, one Carolina energy group wants to make it so they don't need new power plants by conserving what they already produce.

Florida could get one third of its power from tidal energy.

Democrats and Republicans square off as renewable is pitted vs. fossil. The gist of this is that Democrats want $20 billion in investments for renewable by repealing $20 billion in rebates for oil, coal and gas, which Republicans are threatening to fillibuster to death.

And the vote should come on it by tomorrow.

Numbers on giving...

Economic impact of climate change felt on the Great Lakes.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I hasven't done an update since Thursday? Criminal!

A group of researchers in the Middle East is looking at damming the Red Sea. It would be a project on an unheard of scale, and it's estimated it would provide 50GW of power, which would make it by far the most powerful power plant in the world, and could make the MidEast a green powerhouse. On the other hand, the ecological devastation would be just as unheard of, on a horrific scale.

Green spaces in big cities could lower temp dramatically by reducing urban heat effect.

This is an older article I may or may not have linked already, but it shows how plasma can turn trash into inert substances and even a source of income. I'm going to look for updates on this soon.

Here's a first peek at the newly redesigned Chevy Volt. Lutz has recently announced that GM is officially committed to producing the car (as if the millions spent weren't commitment enough), and that the old design was a wind tunnel flop.

A new study finds that E20 and E30 mixtures of ethanol and gasoline may actually improve fuel economy.

Germany gets aggressive on saving energy with new home construction laws.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New light glows for 12 years without being recharged.

Costa Rica finishes planting 5 million trees.

Britain proposes a serious new plan to build 2,000 new turbines all around Britain, that will power all their homes and help get Europe to its 20% renewables goal.

A look at how many jobs, by state, could be created by a real push for domestically produced renewables.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A bit more in depth on how the new Geothermal discovery process works. I didn't catch this before, but:

Accessible geothermal energy in the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, has been estimated at 9 x 1016 (90 quadrillion) kilowatt-hours, 3,000 times more than the country's total annual energy consumption.
I didn't know that geothermal had THAT much potential. Recent estimations I've seen elsewhere suggest the potential is much lower, so that's certainly good news.

On the necessity of a coordinated effort to update the nation's power grid.

More on Germany's new law requiring new homes be partially powered by renewables.

California wins big victory against Auto industry, now only has one hurdle in the way of creating their own emissions standards: The EPA.

I can't find it now, but I read an article earlier today on how the Bush Administration pressured the EPA to lower requirements for manufacturers on how much toxic discharge they are required to report. The Administration claims they were just trying to ease regulatory hurdles, while others are crying foul at the continued despoiling of the environment at the hands of the Bush EPA. Given their track record in the past few years, is anyone really surprised? I'll try and find the article for details.

Greenland's ice caps are melting at an alarmingly fast rate, far outstretching the thickening that some are reporting.

Many leading scientists are calling for a Presidential Science Debate for the 2008 election.

LA's water worries.

A look at three airships companies hoping to make their designs a reality.

There's some news on the Energy Bill over in the Congressional news thread, but it's nothing huge. If any big developments come up I'll likely post it in both threads in case people don't read both (assuming anyone is reading at all).

Next Monday the Green News Center and Congressional News Center will be going on a break until after the holidays. If anyone would like to volunteer to do a post in that time I'd be more than happy to forward links to sites I generally use to obtain my information, otherwise, barring any major announcements, you can expect regular updates to return after the first of the year.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Loved the article about Germany. I have no idea what the insulation stuff meant - in my apartment heat is largely regulated by the neighbors. Running the AC is way more important than flipping over to heat.

I wonder if a solar AC would work as well as a solar heating thingy? That's the way to sell it in Florida.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Working the Greenland icemelt...
"Anyway," Steffen says, stubbing out his cigarette, "it was good to know that I could quit if I really needed to."
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
When I bought my house it had about 2 inches of mineral wool insulation. It didn't have an R rating printed on the moisture barrier, but I'd guess it was probably 5 or less. Since then I've taken down the sheetrock and put up 6" R-19 insulation, which is the thickest I can put up since I have cathedral ceilings with 8" rafters.

But that article makes me sick. I'd like to get up to R-33, but R-50? I might as well tear down my house and build a new one. Maybe someone will invent a better insulating material that can do R-50 in 6 inches. Right...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Well keep in mind it IS for new home construction.
Posted by Architraz Warden (Member # 4285) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Picture of the day: Europe at night.

Not to nitpick with that, but that really isn't Europe... More like North Africa and the Middle East at night, with Europe in the background.

Also, thanks for the gray water links. I've been arguing that point with another forum for a few days, nice to have another link to reference.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Well keep in mind it IS for new home construction.
Yeah I know, but I'd like to get as close to superinsulation as I can, but I'm limited by the construction of my house. With regular attic type construction R-33 would be a piece of cake.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Originally posted by Architraz Warden:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Picture of the day: Europe at night.

Not to nitpick with that, but that really isn't Europe... More like North Africa and the Middle East at night, with Europe in the background.

Also, thanks for the gray water links. I've been arguing that point with another forum for a few days, nice to have another link to reference.

Pfft. Nitpicker [Wink]

You're welcome for the link. If you're in a fix I'm sure I could find you a fair bit more on it, but the most recent link I did was pretty informative, that should cover most of your bases.
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
Since it's being featured on a major news site, I thought it might be worthy of posting in this thread:

Al Gore's 'Green' Home Improvements (


Gore's improvements cut the home's summer electrical consumption by 11 percent compared with a year ago, according to utility records reviewed by The Associated Press. Most Nashville homes used 20 percent to 30 percent more electricity during the same period because of a record heat wave.

Shinn said Gore's renovations are impressive because his home, which is more than 80 years old, had to meet the same rigorous standards as new construction.

"One of the things that is tremendously powerful about what the Gores have done is demonstrate that you can take a home that was a dog, an absolute energy pig, and do things to correct that," Shinn said.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Major solar factory to come online in April. Can create 70MW worth of equipment per month, and will utilize robotic assembly.

Fluctuations in wind for winter powered turbines may not be as bad as previously thought.

How Solar entrepreneurs are making their money in the market.

Arctic may go ice free by 2013.

Rumors are flowing that the US has agreed to some sort of deal at the Bali conference, but there are no specifics as of yet. The deal may hinge on including developing nations in the binding reductions, but even so, Pres. Bush even tenatively agreeing is a good step forward.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
GM looks to save money by making factories less energy intensive to heat.

Ford licenses their soy foam technology.

US passes Energy Bill that raises CAFE standards and agrees to negotiation with the UN in Bali over climate rules.

I've posted about this before, but the maiden voyage of a new drive to bring wind sails back to shipping will take place in 2008. It could reduce shipping costs by as much as 20%, and reduce emissions obviously.

Bali finally takes a look at the role tropical forest management plays in emissions. In other words? They're looking at tough new measures to get nations with tropical rainforests from deforesting, via economic incentives.

Solar tiles win award.

Energy Bill provides millions for years to come for geothermal research. Geothermal advocates are hailing it as a great achievement for geothermal power, which has the potential to power the entire US.
Posted by DarkKnight (Member # 7536) on :
Over 100 Prominent Scientists Warn UN: Attempting To Control Climate Is ‘Futile’
Interesting article to read, I wonder why this hasn't been reported much?
The UN climate conference met strong opposition Thursday from a team of over 100 prominent international scientists, who warned the UN, that attempting to control the Earth’s climate was “ultimately futile.”

The scientists, many of whom are current and former UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scientists, released an open letter to the UN Secretary-General questioning the scientific basis for climate fears and the UN’s so-called “solutions.”

“It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables,” the scientists wrote.

The scientists’ letter continued: “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued increasingly alarming conclusions about the climatic influences of human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2), a non-polluting gas that is essential to plant photosynthesis. While we understand the evidence that has led them to view CO2 emissions as harmful, the IPCC’s conclusions are quite inadequate as justification for implementing policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity. In particular, it is not established that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions.”

I do think we could spend more on cleaning the enviornment and fixing things we can fix, and not wasting so much trying to curb one source of pollution. Plus we need to get China and India onboard with improving their enviornment, instead of solely focusing on the USA.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I actually had heard about this, but I hadn't seen a good article that really had the details, so thanks for posting that, it wasn't on any of the main pages of any of my usual sites, including CNN.

I think that the real argument I'd have against what those guys are saying is the line
"the IPCC’s conclusions are quite inadequate as justification for implementing policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity." That's sticking with a false conclusion that combating CO2 emissions (necessary or not) would have a detrimental effect on our economy, which is NOT a fact. I submit that it's a possibility, but by no means a foregone conclusion. As of right now, renewable energy and efficiency upgrades are creating wealth in America, not destroying it. I see nothing to indicate that trend turning downwards.

As for the science involve, to be honest I gave up having an opinion on it one way or the other. I lean towards believing climate change is real, but I think whether it's real or not, we should go ahead and do all the things to combat it regardless of it's truthfulness because their benefits far outweigh the climate change question.
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Major solar factory to come online in April. Can create 70MW worth of equipment per month, and will utilize robotic assembly.

That's pretty cool. More mass-production like this should help bring down the cost of building solar power plants then, right?

Something else I've been wondering about, Lyrhawn: Do you know any good resources for investing in renewable energy companies? I've seen lots of "green mutual funds" but most of them seemed to be companies of any sort that had made some envirnmental pledges or whatever. I'm more interested in specific companies involved in building geothermal, solar, etc power plants or the related technology for them. It seems like a growth industry.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I usually don't post that kind of financial information because I'm really not qualified to push any particular stock...but later in the week, if you want, I'll look for information specifically about investments (which are green hot right not) in the Green sector and where the money is going. I would wait if I were you until after the first of the year, at the very least, until we see how the new Energy Bill effects things, but I think your best bet is solar and geothermal at the moment, also look at GE and other companies who make the parts for Wind Turbines, which are also hot right now. Wind power is booming worldwide, and is doing very well domestically (especially in Texas).

I can tell you that First Solar had the best performing stock of 2007. Thanks to the high price of oil, their stock went up 738% over the course of the year, from $29.84 on January 1st to $250.00 more recently.

I'd say you might get lucky if you put money into ethanol places, but be extremely wary of that. Money is flowing into ethanol like crazy right now, especially after the more recent Energy Bill, and ethanol companies are going to do very well this year, but LONG TERM those companies are on shakey ground, and I don't see it lasting.

And yes, more mass production like that will bring down the cost of solar power plants. Keep in mind that the materials they are making are not for (I think) PVC or Photovoltaic cells, they are for thermal solar, which is mirrors heating a giant tank of water and powering a steam turbine. Since we won't have to import this stuff (domestic deveolpment and production is really picking up speed) the price per kwh of solar should start to slowly sink over time. It's going to be more expensive than coal for awhile, but companies like Google are making it their mission to bring solar to kwh cost parity with coal in the next decade or two.

Take a look at the companies that Google is buying recently, or investing in. I'd expect their stock prices to rise as major investments grow. If you take a look back over the last few pages of the thread you might see where investments are going, and then I would just suggest you research the company, their technology, and see where things are going.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
EPA denies waiver for California to make their own CO2 emissions rules. Arnold says that they will sue the EPA immediately.

PG&E announces the first deal in the nation to purchase wave power.

Stanford researcher announces breakthrough in LION battery tech that has the potential to increase battery capacity by a factor of 10.

Nanosolar tech is finally commercially viable. They've been touting their technology, which prints solar cells with low efficiency but are very cheap. They expect the cost per watt to come in at, or slightly below that of a coal fired plant. The first batch goes to Germany, where renewables are being aggressively pursued.

A good sign for the renewable energy investment market: for the first time, more tonnage of silicon was used for solar power than for semiconductors, marking a milestone for the PVC industry.

A look at US Wind power. Of all the electrical generation added to the US grid in 2006, 19% was wind power. At the end of 2006 it was widely considered cost competitive with fossil fuel fired plants, and sometimes even the cheapest option. Prices for wind have trended upwards recently, but largely because of a lack of domestic manufacturing capacity. Spain, Denmark, and Germany on the other hand, with larger national support for wind, are wind powerhouses, creating jobs, wealth and energy domestically by exporting their materials.

Southern California Edison signs contract for 185MW of renewables in geothermal and wind power.

Farm Bill includes some small helping hands for rural renewable energy genereation (mostly wind, from the look of it).

On the whole, a lot of cool announcements today! Enigmatic, it's articles like the one about NanoSolar that I'd pay attention to if you're looking for info on who to invest in. Up and coming renewable energy companies with special or unique techniques/technologies that produce in demand products for a good price are going to be the ones that gets the most dollars, and whose stocks are likely to do the best. NanoSolar has been getting a lot of attention, and if they can really produce a cell that gives people a watt for $2, then they have a serious winner that I don't see going anywhere, especially if they license the technology to others. BrightSource, Asura, those wave power guys, some geothermal startups, those are the ones I'd be looking at.

You need to be wary of the end of 2008 though. Renewable tax credits are set to expire, and if Congress doesn't extend them, I'd heavily consider getting out. It won't collapse, like a lot of them did in the 70's/80's when government subsidies dried up, since technology has come a long way and some of them really don't even need the help, but it'll hurt.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Last update of 2007 before the Green Energy News Center breaks for the holidays. I'll try and make this super big entry by going back a few days, which I don't normally do. Enjoy!

Questions being raised as to how the EPA came to its decision to deny California's emissions waiver. The LA Times has this quote in the White House's interference:

"Clearly the White House said, 'We're going to get EPA out of the way and get California out of the way. If you give us this energy bill, then we're done, the deal is done,'" said one staffer.
If you read the link at the end of this paragraph, you'll see the official White House line was that the EPA made an independent decision and that Bush had nothing to do with it. The story is still being investigated, and Arnold has vowed to sue the EPA (and he sounds pissed at the White House too)

California accepts Ausra's 177MW solar power plant application. May start producing power as soon as 2009.

Dow Chemical, Bloomberg, FPL and Goldman Sachs join The Climate Group to fight global warming and prove you can make money doing it.

MO lags behind other Midwest US states on renewable energy focus.

Scientists issue renewed worry for Western water woes as climate change continues.

New technology could eliminate almost 10% of US power use merely by getting rid of wasteful standby electronics.

Update on the solar tree - Considered a success, Vienna is mulling buying a bunch of them.

BP gives gift of solar power to food banks. Gifts will eliminate as much as 20% of their yearly operating costs, which will go directly into their non-profit work.

Heliovolt plans nanosolar factory for Texas

Nanosolar has shipped their first panel shipment, it went to Beck in Germany for a microgeneration project.

Merry Christmas Green Hatrackers!

[ December 22, 2007, 07:26 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Sterling (Member # 8096) on :
You might find Real Climate's opinion on the paper by Douglass, Pearson, and Singer (which appears to have inspired the "100 Scientists Letter") of interest...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Small update today just to get it going, and then expect a big uber update on Friday to try and make up for the holidays.

7 Technologies that will change the world in 2008 (included are electric cars, LEDs, and the Kindle)

Wave buoy power plants get another try, this time a full trial, after the other buoy sinks.

DaimlerChrysler to pay record $30 million CAFE violation fine. With new standards in the offing, record fines wil be a yearly occurrence.

Renewable Energy's top articles of 2007

Featured Article
A Grand Solar Plan - A look at the future of solar in the US, and what it could do. I haven't read it all yet, I'm going to do so now and I'll post a review of the article later.

Edit to add review:

The gist?

A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.
A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.
Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.
A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.
But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

Having read it, I won't go into detail, but it's a quick read so I suggest everyone read the full article. It's a good, detailed plan on how to use Solar as a main source of energy for the US. It talks about feasibility, technology and implementation, all reasonably. What I like is that it's really scaleable. The article talks about powering most of the US with solar alone, but not about a dozen other renewables and efficiency upgrades, which means we probably wouldn't have to go nearly as far as this plan goes in order to really power the US on renewables, but I find that even more heartening.

[ January 02, 2008, 06:22 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Small update today, I'll be back with more before the week is done (for real this time!):

EEStor partners with Lockheed Martin, expects testing to be done at the end of 2008. Looks like they MIGHT be for real afterall.

Government predicts $3.50 a gallon by Spring. Look out California.

Experiments begin with new ways to change driving tax. The idea is to charge by the mile driven, not per gallon at the pump.

New invention could drastically increase the efficiency of solar panels from the industry best of 30% (expensive) to 60% with a new ultraefficient process.

New Englad wind farm gets approval.

China bans plastic bags and raises fuel standards.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Las Vegas to build 30 story vertical farm.
What's not to love (well, other than building a farm in an area absent of water)? The thing feeds thousands of people, pays for itself, and drastically reduces the cost of transporting foods long distances. I wonder if they also have a reduction in pesticides since the crops are so high up in the air. It'll be a minor greening of the Vegas image, but I like it a lot.

GE says to expect an announcement soon on a Saturn VUE PHEV.

Researchers invent aerogel like substance that filters toxins from pipe emissions.

New report touts a globally sustainable world economy, the benefits of adhering to it, and the possibe pitfalls of being left behind.

Oregon looks to become world leader in tidal energy.

New method for low efficiency less toxic solar cell created.

Government pledges to buy EPEAT computers (you've heard me talk about LEED before for buildings, it's like that)

US Automakers show off recycling efforts

Britain approves new round of nuclear reactors to go onlike before 2020.

Environment plays role in presidential election

Futures traders are buying oil for $200/barrel.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
FIve-year study shows ethanol from switchgrass can produce 540% of the energy put into it (relevant part quoted because it may be slashdotted):

But yields from a grass that only needs to be planted once would deliver an average of 13.1 megajoules of energy as ethanol for every megajoule of petroleum consumed—in the form of nitrogen fertilizers or diesel for tractors—growing them. "It's a prediction because right now there are no biorefineries built that handle cellulosic material" like that which switchgrass provides, Vogel notes. "We're pretty confident the ethanol yield is pretty close." This means that switchgrass ethanol delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent more energy returned by corn-based ethanol according to the most optimistic studies.


In fact, Vogel and his team report this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that switchgrass will store enough carbon in its relatively permanent root system to offset 94 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted both to cultivate it and from the derived ethanol burned by vehicles. Of course, this estimate also relies on using the leftover parts of the grass itself as fuel for the biorefinery. "The lignin in the plant cell walls can be burned," Vogel says.

Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Tata to gas hogs? Probably not acceptable to many FirstWorlders as a primary vehicle.
But most of the non-work commute time spent in cars is for extremely short trips on surface roads and not freeways. So something similarly priced (with a thousand or so bucks more for front-passenger airbags) might be a great alternative second vehicle for tooling around town: grocery shopping, dropping the kids off at school, catching a movie, etc.
No freeway driving. But I suspect that for many Americans especially, spending $35hundred for a safety-version Tata would sound far more attractive than spending $12thousand for a Fortwo.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I read an article in the New York Times today that people are buying Tatas without bothering to learn to drive them. I was in the doctor's office, and I didn't finish the article, but I've got to wonder what kind of licensing or insurance requirements they have in India.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Excellent article Dagonee! I've seen a few articles about different non food based plants as a fuel source, and it looked for awhile like sorgrum (spelling is off) would be the one, especially since it can be planted in depleted tobacco fields, which are rampant all over Virginia and other southern states, and can't grow traditional cash crops these days.

Cellulosic ethanol plants ARE under construction, but it remains to be seen that they will work the way scientists hope. A lot depends on next generation bacteria to break down the plants so they can be processed, otherwise it's much, much more costly. We'll see, but I think cellulosic is getting closer in leaps and bounds. I'm still waiting for more news on biobutanol and octobutanol too.

For Tata, it remains to be seen if those cars will pass rigorous US and European safety standards. Recently made Chinese cars have failed safety inspections in Europe.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Got off work early today because I have a nasty cold. So, here's a tiny weekend update. Not much because weekends are always light. Most of the news seems to be centering around the Detroit Auto Show (which I may go see in a couple weeks, we'll see) and the green cars coming out there (some neat stuff!) but there are a few other updates. Notably:

EPA changes their story in why the California waiver was denied for stricter emissions standards. Doesn't look good for the EPA.

Congressional commission to call for a 40 cent gas tax increase over five years, citing dangerously decrepit roads and bridges as in need of new funding. I support this, for two reasons. 1. I'm always a fan of infrastructure upgrades, I'm sure you all know that. 2. Higher gas prices should reduce the increase in fuel use in the country, and might even spur more investment in public transportation.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I just want to throw this out: I'm watching John McCain on CNN right now, and aside from some wanton and random France bashing and he more or less said exactly what I've been saying for months: that even if we're wrong about global warming, the economic benefits make it worthwhile regardless of the environment.

It's scary to hear my words not only coming out of a Republican's mouth, but a Republican presidential candidate's mouth, and the frontrunner to boot! I don't say that to bash McCain, though I'm mildly skeptical of his commitment to that wordplay, I'm just honestly surprised, and if he really means it, then it's great news! Getting the Republican leadership on board is one of the last great battles that has to be fought before this revolution can explode the way it needs to.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I'm getting lazy, more than a week since my last update. One of my favorite sites that has the most information doesn't work at the moment for some reason, but hopefully that's only temporary. So in the meantime, you get a small but good smattering of info.

A biodiesel refinery that uses algae as it's source of fuel will be built in Airzona. Looks like it plans on 30 million gallon per year. Similar small scale efforts have failed, but even a couple years ago the technology wasn't totally up to snuff, and fuel didn't cost what it does today.

Ford touts a revamped Escape/Mariner hybrid. From the looks of things, it's a major improvement. Tiny increase in efficiency, but the big story is the increase in power and performance without sacrificing that efficiency. This is the kind of thing that helps take SUV hybrids more mainstream.

Major orders coming in for GM's two-mode diesel hybrid bus. 1,700 new orders.

New Mexico to be the home of a new solar thermal factory. The factory will make the parts to make the power plants.

Union Pacific looks for even more efficient locomotives.

Google announces who gets the cash.

New nanocomposite material could be much more efficient way to capture solar power. Just reading the description of what these things are and how they are built left me slightly dizzy. Truly science, and the things we can do are amazing.

New technology could capture energy from waste heat, opening up a wealth of options and applications.

US improves wind power by 45% in 2007 totalling a bit more than 5GW. Impressive for renewables.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
The nanowire waste heat technology sounds like it could have a real value for cooling clothing. Plug in a discharged battery and the nanowires cool the wearer as the battery charges.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A lot of big announcements in the last few days. I'd forgotten all the good info you can get when you check these sites out daily.

This one isn't green news, but it effects us. Raytheon has licensed a technology to extract oil from tar sands and shale. As many of you know, shale in the American west holds more oil than all of Saudi Arabia combined, maybe even the whole Middle East combined. It's oil that's a few million years younger than what they have in the ME, and requires a lot of work to be turned into that light sweet crude we love so much. If prices go much higher, you'll really start seeing the push come to dig up Colorado for oil.

Big Solar is starting to get nervous over the lack of renewable of the tax credit for solar power. Many view it as crucial for the solar industry to survive until newer technology can make it cost competitive independently. Expect a big push from the renewable energy industry to lobby the White House and Congress for a quick fix to the problem.

Even though the southeast was the biggest obstacle to passing the energy standards portfolio in the 07 energy bill, they're still charging ahead with renewables.

The EU sets ambitious goals for emissions reduction.

WalMart plans to make its most energy intensive products 25% more efficient in 3 years.

New uber efficient inverters could lower the price of solar by a whopping 30% Inverters are what changes power from DC to AC, and before it wasn't the most efficient process, energy loss could be brutal (see my HVDC power line rants), but this new inverter has a 98.5% efficiency rate.

Going retro at sea: The first commercial vessel fitted with a SkySail (yep, we're back to sails!) takes to the sea on an official trip.

Every drop helps, or, using rain power for a tiny bit of energy savings

Washington University comes up with new way to produce Butanol, a plant based fuel source superior to regular ethanol.

Featured Article
Your featured article is an interactive map of the entire US, where you can calculate how much wind or solar power you could expect to collect from any given spot in the country.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I've been spending the time I normally spend on this doing Primary news stuff, but I haven't forgotten the treehuggers of Hatrack!

I'll do a two part update today, one now, and one when I get home from work around 3pm.

Researchers turn E Coli into mini-biofuel factories.

The State of Green Business in 2008 has many promising trends and a lot of great news to report. Highlights include a 500% increase in LEED certified office space in the last couple years, and a massive 48 billion dollar investment in renewable energy in 2006. Plus paper consumption in the US has plateaued, even as use increaes.

New development in algae farming looks like a major step forward in turning algae into fuel.

Chevy to consider a Hyrbid Camarao. Mostly as a result of the new CAFE rules. It'll be uber expensive if created, but it'll also get awesome performance.

Yet another big investment in solar.

5 big breakthroughs on the horizon for the health of ocean's.

About half of all aluminium cans are recycled in America. Aloca wants to see that raised to 75% by 2015.

World's largest wind turbine goes online with two prototypes in Germany. Each turbine produces a whopping 7MW and can power 5,000 homes. The details of the technical upgrades aren't readily available. I wonder if they integrated the Mag-Lev techniques the Chinese are working on.

New estimates predict that demand for oil will outpace growth in production by 2015.

An update on Bank of America's goal of LEED certifications.

[ February 05, 2008, 08:07 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Intel wants to be the biggest purchaser of renewable power in the US

Featured Article
Paris plans to build green meeting space. Aside from looking fantastic and providing a great view of the city for visitors, it's powered by renewables, actually reduces smog from surrounding areas, and has a green roof that recycles water for the lagoon inside. I can't wait to visit!

Department of Energy gives up on prototype clean coal power plant.

Wind power finally coming to the Great Lakes. In her recent State of the State address, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm has said domestic energy providers are ready to spend billions on renewables including wind turbines to be built in Michigan as soon as the Michigan Congress passes legislation to clear the way for them.

France unveils new super fast, higher capacity, more efficient train. Let's buy some! Their speed is said to rival that of planes for short hops, especially considering reduced boarding time.

Wall Street gives coal the cold shoulder.

Letting solar and wind tax credits expire could cost 116,000 US jobs, and billions in investments.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Georgia Governor tells people to go swimming. In spite of record drought.

Company promises $1 a gallon cellulosic ethanol by 2010.

Hawaii makes big push for renewables. Hawaii right now uses oil for almost all of their energy needs. Every MW of renewables reduces foreign owned oil.

I posted about this a long time ago, but now it's actually built: Alaskan resort pioneers hydrothermal tech for cheap energy. The article also talks about using oil waste water to power plants as well, it sounds like a great way to make lemonade out of our excess of polluting lemons.

I've posted about this before too, so this is an update. NComputing has gotten a second round of funding for programming that turns one computer into twenty for companies that only use computers for small applications.

Researchers grow nanowire hairs for solar panels. Read the article, it's interesting.

Explosive growth in Chinese car sales. I've read a lot of articles lately saying that Chinese and Indian cheap cars and explosive growth will cause oil to surge in price over the next couple years. Oil producing companies have almost no hope of keeping pace with demand. Gas might be at $5 a gallon in just a few years.
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
A seventeen minute video about how seeing the world from the perspective of other species can help us increase efficiency in a sustainable way.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I'll be perfectly honest. About halfway through I thought it was a bunch of hippy mumbo jumbo. Then it started to sound a little cooler, and in the last five minutes it blew me away a little. That's the kind of interdependent sustainability that we need to embrace, and he's hitting the nail on the head when he says there's no reason to sacrifice the environment for the things we need, the environment is already built to give us those things.

Excellent video Juxtapose.
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
I was really interested in the article about the push for renewables in Hawaii.

I grew up in Hilo, the rainiest city in the US. I had an idea a little while ago for a device that would harness the energy from rainwater falling in gutters to help power homes. According to my calculations though, such a device running at perfect efficiency (with 130 inches of rain, mind you) would net less than 3 kWh a year.

Oh well.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I've posted an article before about harnessing rainwater for energy, but it wasn't from gutters, it was from the vibrations and impact that the water makes when it hits your roof. It's being worked on, but I haven't seen anything on it really recently.
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
I was really interested in the article about the push for renewables in Hawaii.

I grew up in Hilo, the rainiest city in the US. I had an idea a little while ago for a device that would harness the energy from rainwater falling in gutters to help power homes. According to my calculations though, such a device running at perfect efficiency (with 130 inches of rain, mind you) would net less than 3 kWh a year.

Oh well.

I'm very curious what assumptions you used in that calculation. By my calculation, 130 inches of water over a 1 km square area that is 1 m above sea level has a potential energy just under 9 megaWatt hours.
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
I've posted an article before about harnessing rainwater for energy, but it wasn't from gutters, it was from the vibrations and impact that the water makes when it hits your roof. It's being worked on, but I haven't seen anything on it really recently.
I saw that one too. Much more high tech than my idea.

I did my calculations on a per household basis, based on a 1000 sq. foot* roof area with 3m falling distance. I also did a fair amount of rounding.

*This works out to roughly 2360 L per inch of rain.

9.8m/s^2 * (2360kg * 130) * 3m = ~9,00,000J

According to google, 1 kWh = 3,600,000J

If I did something wrong here, I'd love to know about it.
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
Ah, I see. You were calculating based on the ran gutters on a single house, I was thinking of the rain gutters on the street that would drain a much larger area.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat --a NY Times article which references 2 new studies in the journal Science. The studies take a detailed accounting of what's involved in the manufacture and transport to market of biofuels, including land-use issues.

What's sad is that (edit: corn-based) biofuels will still be pushed hard, at least in this country, for years to come. There's too much political inertia behind it. [Frown] [Wall Bash]

[ February 13, 2008, 09:13 AM: Message edited by: Morbo ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I don't think the article does enough to really explain the differences in biofuels. They're basically talking about corn, or maybe soybeans. But I don't know many people who really know about biofuels that think corn ethanol is a GOOD thing. It's horrible. But it's a stepping stone. If you look at the "well to wheel" for corn ethanol it's extremely wasteful.

But it's not the only biofuel. Fuel from agricultural waste, from carbon sequested algae farms, but plants that grow faster with less energy but YIELD more energy that are being worked on now like soghrum and switchgrass, and a few others, away from corn and into cellulosic ethanol, or biobutanol, or what not, these are good biofuels. It should be noted that not all trees are made the same when it comes to carbon sinks. The biggest, best carbon sinks are basically all in the third world. The worst ones are in the the northern hemisphere. South America and Africa MUST keep their forests intact, and we in the north who have a lot more room to maneuver need to make it easier for them to do so, otherwise they'll ignore our demands and do whatever makes them the most money. Biofuels of the future are going to look at LOT different from corn, and they'll be a lot more sustainable too. In the mean time there are a lot of other things we can do to sequester carbon. Japan is working on genetically modified trees that absorb massive amounts of carbon. I'm nervous at the idea of genetically modified trees, but I'm not willing to close any door until what's behind it has been explored.

I've heard that article talked about a lot lately, and I won't call it irresponsible journalism, because there is an extremely good point in there (the evils of corn ethanol), but they need to do more to really give the full picture or the backlash could harm a vital part of our sustainable energy future.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
Slashdot has a thread on raindrop energy, started off by article on it.

There's some math salvos back and forth on it, but it looks like a waste of time, to me. Just not enough energy per unit area to be worth any effort.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
In Minnesota, thanks to a Byzantine approval process, potential wind farms face a 612 year waiting list before they can be built.

New player to the solar sterling engine game takes a smaller scale approach, rather than building massive farms in the desert, they have smaller dishes that can be built within cities.

Staples cancels contracts with paper supplier believed to be using unsustainable deforestation methods.

Canada pursues solar, despite the widely held belief that solar in the north is untenable.

Plans announced for wave power stations in Hawaii

Chevy Volt to cost around $35,000 and I'll follow that up with an article about PHEV tax credits, which could be up to $4,000, when and if they are passed later this year.

Fusion power in five years? Venture capitalists and some scientists think so. I'm personally skeptical, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

Folding bikes in style? Maybe. A company is looking to push production of these for those with concerns for storage and portability. The military has used bikes like this before. They airdrop with folded bikes on their backs, land, and boom, you've got fast transportation compared to walking, and it's easier on the troops. In this case it looks like they are trying to take the inconvenience of the size of a bike out of the equation. I'd be more excited if we actually had a lot of mass transit in the US that'd make this a cool invention for us, but, hopefully it'll gain traction in Asia and Europe.

Taking the supply chain into account with solar power...

One of your pictures of the day: Planting flourescent tubes under power lines makes for free light show. and what Chinese pollution looks like from space.

Solazyme has successful test of their algae based biofuel.

Potential LA highrise will be very green, but there are a lot of questions to be answered.

A design firm is looking to tun San Francisco's Treasure Island into a Green metropolis. They hope to level the island and start from scratch, turning the island into a living test bed of all the most current green tech. I think it looks pretty cool, and I hope they go through with it. Maybe if we can show how well sustainable building practices work, more people will accept them in their own backyards (though ironically most of them probably won't have backyards, but you get the idea!)
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
See, what we need to do is figure out how to make biofuel from kelp. Fastest growing plant on earth and all that.

EDIT - apparently, it's already been looked into, and single cell algae are the way to go.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
The US Department of Energy awards almost $21 million for 13 projects aimed at advancing solid-state lighting (including LEDs).
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Lucky for you guys I don't have to work until the afternoon tomorrow, so I've got time to do a supersized weekend edition. I'll be flagging a couple articles that I think are extra interesting or important. This will come in two parts:

Texas is quietly turning into the next California, but maybe better. They have to produce a lot of their own green power because of how the power grid works, and because of mandates, and it looks like they are expanding to solar.

Big Business gets behind green energy producers to send a message to Congress to renew the energy tax credit. Smartly, they chose not to even mention global warming, but instead went for a purely economic message.

Ports and shipping are given new attention as their full polluting impact is realized. Even as old school wind propulsion starts to look mainstream again.

Sun Power and Jupiter sign silicon deal that could produce 3GW of solar power.

New UK project will be largest in the country's history to try and reduce the cost of Photovoltaics.

Nanotechnology is looking to create t-shirts that generate power through motion.

Interestingly, if you have a solar array and you use far less power than you generate, you get a $0 power bill, but nothing in return. A new bill in the California legislature would make power companies pay you for excess power of yours that they sell.

How Green is your Presidential candidate? Or more appropriately, how oily? This leads to a graph that details contributions from the oil industry to candidates. I browsed it a little bit. It's pretty in depth. It tells you who gave to who, how much, even links you to the actual FEC filing. It also goes back to 2004 and 2000 for fun.

Featured Article
New clothes drier could save American billions, and be first energy star approved drier ever.

Featured Article
Huzzah! The House has introduced a bill to extend the renewable energy tax credit, along with a slew of other goodies, even adding wave and tidal power, and including a $4K tax credit for PHEVs. Now if they can just get it past the Republicans

On a clear day in New Mexico...a new record was set in solar to grid conversion efficiency using a Sterling solar "flower" design.

Second entry to follow soon, or maybe tomorrow morning.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
Huh, I thought power companies were already buying excess power from solar arrays. Maybe just in some states. [Dont Know]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Al Gore gets big money to commit to energy efficient building practices.

How to Green your kitchen

World's largest PV farm opens in Spain. It's still way undersized for what is needed to dent the problem, but it's really just a drop in the bucket of what's to come.

Amsterdam considers underwater city.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Originally posted by Morbo:
Huh, I thought power companies were already buying excess power from solar arrays. Maybe just in some states. [Dont Know]

It's a subject that varies wildly, not just form state to state, but from house to house. If it's a partnership, like the local power company built and maintains the array and sells you some power at a fixed rate, then you don't get anything out of it, it's a longterm partnership with defined benefits for both sides.

But in many places, they zero out your energy bill and you get nothing back. I know in the UK you get some sort of complicated system of solar credits which are traded in for actual cash. But yes, it does vary from state to state on who gets what. It's a bit convoluted at the moment, in part because it's still new to everyone.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Amsterdam's city under the city idea is cool. I do have to agree with most of the commentators from TreeHugger, though. Do you really want a bunch of gas fumes in your undercity?
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
Gravity-powered lamp:

Concept illustrations of Gravia depict an acrylic column a little over four feet high. The entire column glows when activated. The electricity is generated by the slow fall of a mass that spins a rotor. The resulting energy powers 10 high-output LEDs that fire into the acrylic lens, creating a diffuse light. The operation is silent and the housing is elegant and cord free -- completely independent of electrical infrastructure.

The light output will be 600-800 lumens - roughly equal to a 40-watt incandescent bulb over a period of four hours.

To "turn on" the lamp, the user moves weights from the bottom to the top of the lamp. An hour glass-like mechanism is turned over and the weights are placed in the mass sled near the top of the lamp. The sled begins its gentle glide back down and, within a few seconds, the LEDs come on and light the lamp, Moulton said. "It's more complicated than flipping a switch but can be an acceptable, even enjoyable routine, like winding a beautiful clock or making good coffee," he said.

Of course, it's actually powered by the food energy consumed by the person lifting the weight. Also, I didn't see a mention of how heavy the weight is or whether energy life-cycle costs have been calculated. But it's pretty cool.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Picture of the day: Bottom trawling seen from space

Mapping North America's environmental problems

L.A. goes Solar in a big way. I love it. This is exactly the kind of plan that every city needs. It creates jobs and reduces energy consumption. Now if they can link it in with increased efficiency plans, they'll be even better off.

I know I've posted it before, but now it's backed up independently. It the green tax credit isn't renewed, more than a hundred thousand jobs will be lost.

Multi billion dollar 280MW solar plant planned for Arizona. Will create thousands of jobs and inject at least a billion into the Arizonan economy. Mostly hinges on renewable of the green energy tax credit. The plant ave a molten salt repository. Excess heat from the sun will heat the salt and allow the heat to be released when the sun isn't shining or it's night time. The salt will allow for power generation up to six hours after the sun goes down.
The environmental report card for each individual congressperson - including the presidential nominees

Compressed air cars may finally become a reality, and in America no less. They get a reported 106mpg, which gives the driver an 800 mile driving range with a top speed of 95mph. Supposedly they'll be made in India and still be around $17K, so we'll see.

Clean energy, not just energy independence, key at the National Governor's meeting this year in Washington.

In what seems to be a never ending stream of offenses from this Administration, the Wildlife protection division of the Department of the Interior is under fire for prematurely delisting the Grey Wolf from the endangered species list.

British Columbia introduces a carbon tax as part of a partnership to cap emissions and trade with other territories and US states in the pacific northwest.

The Department of Energy is getting serious about EGS (Enhanced Geothermal Systems) EGS is a new type of technology being worked on to expand the output of geothermal wells, and to basically create a geothermal well where none previous existed, sometimes using a method called hot dry rock where you introduce water to a hot rock layer under the Earth that has none to create a geothermal resevoir. Progress continues on this relatively virgin technology, but it holds great promise. I've heard some wild theories about potential risks from doing this. Most of it sounds like it's straight out of a sci-fi disaster flick, like we'll cool the core of the Earth and die or something, but I've yet to see an actual study that says there are any ill effects at all.

[ February 23, 2008, 01:32 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Oy, I'm slacking! Sorry, guess I've gotten a bit lazy lately.

Abu Dhabi wants to be the Green capital of the world, on in their words, the "silicon valley" of Green tech.

Bush says the US will commit to greenhouse gas reductions for long as Brazil, China and India are included in the measure. Being a part of binding targets is a non-starter for China if not for India as well.

In the latest of a long string of predictions, a new predictions says no Arctic sea ice by THIS summer. Predictions in the last few years seemed to target 2100 as the year, then 2030, then 2015, and now it's a couple months. I guess we'll see.

Cheap salt wins over environmental concerns.

Newest updated drought conditions report still looks bad for the southeast.

On that vein of though, Georgian legislators are considering literally redrawing the state line between them and Tennessee to get access to the Tennessee River.

How's the EU doing on their targets for greenhouse gas reductions? As a whole they aren't necessarily doing bad. We on the other hand are doing pretty bad. The EU is on track to hit their goals as a 27 nation bloc by 2020 for 20% below 1990 levels. As a 15 nation bloc they aren't doing nearly as well, but they've managed to keep their emissions stead since 1990, while ours have gone up more than 15%.

PG&E looks to partner with customers and forestry experts to restore redwood sequoia forests to capture carbon.

London to become first Euro nation to begin retrofitting public buildings to make them more energy efficient.

The Arctic is about to get a lot busier, with the advent of a much reduced ice pack on the north.

Italy aims to send 20,000 tons of nuclear waste to the US for storage. The company hoping for the deal says that isn't quite true, only a fraction of that would be stored, but environmentalists are already on the attack.

Major LED breakthrough made. The first polarized LED has been invented, which will allow their use in a myriad of consumer applications.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
Now this is ingenious: MSI's Ecolution motherboard has a cooling fan powered by the chipset's waste heat.
The fan uses the venerable Stirling engine, and gets 70% efficiency.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Okay I feel bad, so here's a bonus post.

High speed rail comes to America....South America. The US continues to lag behind the world in high speed rail, much to my annoyance.

High powered Senators are taking aim at the EPA and their recent lack of action in the P part of the EPA.

Minnesota wind farm to experiment with sodium sulfite batteries to store power for when the wind isn't blowing.

DOE commits millions to research on new enzymes to help with cellulosic ethanol.

Oil would need to be near $127 a barrel to make gas $4 a gallon.

Hydrokinetic renewables, stuff like tidal and wave power, are slowly gaining momentum in the US. A report said that they could in the longterm maybe provide as much as 10% of our total energy needs.

The UK begins it's wind odyssey: to provide dozens of gigawatts of wind power from an array of wind turbines numbering in the thousands that will ring the island.

Silicon production finally catches up to demand.

For your eye candy: some pictures of the perils of biking around the world. Some of these are scary, some funny, but the last one is hopeful.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
You goof-off, is 20-1 in posts the best you can do? [Wink]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Weekends are always slow for Green news.

Come face me on a Wednesday, we'll rumble. [Taunt]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Dubya is spouting misleadingly reasonable-sounding words to cover up his fierce opposition to any measure that would clean up the environment and strengthen the economy.
With extremely HIGH probability, China and India would be more than willing to submit to a per capita limit meeting that of the actual carbon emissions of the original EU core*members. Such a limit would allow China to double its greenhouse emissions, and India to more than triple its emissions.
And the US would have to cut back it's emissions by more than half; by 2/3rds if the EU core were to meet its 2020 goals.
But I'm sure such an equitable settlement is not what Dubya has in mind.

* Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UnitedKingdom.

[ March 04, 2008, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
An earlier discussion on Georgia's desire to grab water rights by redrawing its border with Tennessee. The "mischief" being an unwillingness to climb down the walls of "the Grand Canyon of Tennessee" to get to the river which filled that portion of the canyon with LakeNickajack after TVA damming.

Also, GovernorPerdue unilaterally decided to allow property owners to keep their private swimming pools filled. Those swimming pools will evaporate huge amounts of water every day; probably enough to keep everybody's ornamental gardens thriving were the water allocated for that use instead, though still not nearly enough to water all of the lawns.
Once again proving that money talks much louder than common sense.

[ March 03, 2008, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
GE inks $700 million deal with RES for wind power.

California hit with two rejections on their emissions regulation battle.

GM will make a major hybrid tomorrow at the Geneva Auto Show. I'll post what it is tomorrow.

I have to laugh at what I just typed. In high school, our principal would always come on the PA system at about 2:40 (25 minutes before school ended) and he'd say "In ten minutes I'll be making an announcement." It always drove my English teacher insane that he interrupted class TWICE for once announcement.
Posted by Morbo (Member # 5309) on :
Short vid of a windmill blowing up during a windstorm
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
PacificGas&Electric's new slogan: From contented cows.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I think I'll be doing one major update a week from now on, with a smattering of much, much smaller updates in between. Here's some hybrid news:

GE invests in electric cars, A123 systems batteries.

Continental (A123 partner) says late 2009 for Volt battery, but GM says 2010 is still the target for the Volt.

GM to offer greatly improved mild hybrid system by 2010. (this was the big announcement) It does actually sound pretty impressive if you read the details and see the changes they made. If they keep the cost down to what a current mild hybrid costs, and really ramp up production, this could be a boon.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
SolFocus aims to meet or beat fossil fuel prices for enery with solar concentrators.

New UK study illustrates the massive possible savings from low cost solar heating

After four years of trying, GE invents a process to print rolls of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) sheets. This is significant because OLEDs have the potential to radically alter the way we light our homes and make all kinds of screens. They have the potential to be far more efficient than CFLs or current LEDs. They could eliminate the need for lamps and other traditional lighting sources. It's still a half decade away, but this is a big breakthrough.

Proposed law could outlaw new coal fired plants that don't capture 85% of carbon.

Collapse of Pacific salmon population could lead to ban on commercial fishing this season.

Solar roads, which we've debated in this thread before, are moving from the concept stage to the development stage officially.

A deal has been inked in Europe that could lead to the first large scale test project for wave power, in the 250MW range.

Dupont says they've saved $100 million on energy upgrades in their titanium dioxide production, and that by 2015, they'll be producing twice as much of the stuff per energy unit than they did in 1991.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I found this afterwards and I am absolutely GEEKED about it, so it gets it's own post!

This November, the people of California will have the opportunity to vote on a $10 billion bond measure which will show the world they have the vision to put in place the needed infrastructure to meet a crowded future. I know $10 billion is a lot but if you put it into a certain perspective, it's not so bad. Especially if you look at it as an economic investment.
From here

I am psyched about this! Californians reading this, vote for the bond issue! Not only could this be move that finally breaks the dam on the US getting high speed rail, but it's good for California too. Here is a video giving some details of the route, the cost, the reasons why it's good, and it's operation.

And here is the official high speed rail website for California.

$10 billion probably sounds like a lot for a state government, but Californians have not shied away from spending big bucks to invest in their future before, and in this case especially, it's a cheaper, safer, cleaner infrastructure upgrade that'll save them literally billions by avoiding more costly upgrades.

I'll be following this story closely, and I'm interested to hear what you Californians have to say on the issue.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New enzyme could make cellulosic ethanol cheaper.

The Automotive X-Prize starts next week.

Abu Dhabi company to spend billions on solar power stations around the world, including the American southwest.

Clean energy market to hit $254 billion in less than 10 years.

Five trends to watch in renewable energy

US Geothermal makes agreement to purchase a few megawatts of geothermal power in Oregon Geothermal is sloowly starting to take off, but it's finally getting some bigger investment dollars too.

Regulators and utilities called upon to modernize grid

Swansea University invents a pain that harnesses solar power. Still lab bound for the moment, but they hope to have 5% efficiency soon.

Not really big news but, the world's biggest butterfly will break ground soon.

Where electric car batteries go to die

Huge new complex in China is planned to open in 2010 as LEED Gold certified giant.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Meanwhile coal use is skyrocketing. And not just in China and India. As well as the UK (mentioned), Germany and Japan are steadily increasing their use of coal in powerplants.
The good news being that US use of coal has been decreasing since 2000 (at least; didn't see a chart for earlier years).
Posted by DarkKnight (Member # 7536) on :
BMW Diesel beats Prius in Economy
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
$10 million Automotive X-Prize has been announced with details.

EPA implements strict new rules on trains and small boats for their emissions. It doesn't include large ships, but it's still an impressive move. The funny thing is that most of who'll be hit by this are either individuals or small businesses, while large corporations can keep doing what they do, but at least it's progress, even if it is on the backs of the people who can afford it least.

Book makers serious about making books more sustainable.

German/Algerian parnership aims to cut the cost of solar thermal. Europe also moves forward in their relationship to what could become Big Solar in North Africa.

A small summary on the state of planned solar projects in the SW US and Spain.

Hydro power looking for a comeback in the US.

Masdar, an Abu Dhabi based company is building a Green city from scratch, and they are starting with a 1.4 million square foot HQ that is energy positive in that it actually produces more energy than it uses, and uses 70% less water than a comparably sized building.

Scroll halfway down the page and you'll find a chart that details why solar is better per acre than ANY biofuel (though algae is good stuff). There's also an interestesting snippet at the bottom about "The Omnivore's Dilemma" which I'm considering reading.

Here's your mini Recycling News for the day:

Clover Technologies is working in a partnership with the United States Postal Service to provide mailers to people so they can recycle small electronics and printer cartridges by mail. If Clover can make this a successful venture, they hope to expand beyond the big cities.

Featured Article
A new company called Recycle Bank is trying to get you to recycle more. The idea is that special recycling bins (big ones too) will be coded with an RFID chip, and you then pick through your trash and recycle everything that can be, and they weigh it and give you credits based on the weight of your recycling. The idea is that if people working on sorting lines in recycling plants get paid, why not the consumers themselves? The credits can be redeemed at a lot of stores like Starbucks, a partnership based venture that I'm betting is half of how they make this financially viable. The other half is that recyclables are big business these days at the base price of so many things rises, and for that matter, it's green cred for places like Starbucks.

The only downside is that it could possibly increase consumerism, as people get discounts places they might be more inclined to shop there, but if the list of places you can cash your credits in at is large enough, I suspect people will probably only use them to supplement purchases they would already make. Besides, in the two test cities in the Philly suburbs, recycling rates went from 7% and 35% to 90%. That's a huge uptick.

Walmart cuts energy use with water cooling system rather than AC cooled. The choice to put that system in the desert was stupid, but hopefully it'll go elsewhere as well.

Why eliminating incandescents entirely might not be the best idea. This one requires a lot of further studying, and I think in some areas it might end up being a wise choice to switch to CFLs or LEDs in the Summer and incandescents in the Winter in the northern states. It depends on a lot of factors though.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Saving Atlantic Salmon one net at a time.

Chinese biofuel plan could destroy last remaining natural forests and crush biodiversity.

Whirlpool's vision of an inerconnected, efficient kitchen of the future.

You may remember previous posts about returning to wind power? Well it worked! The first sailing of a kite powered ship from Germany to Venezuela is complete and was a smashing success. The ship now plans to replace their kite with another sail twice as large, possibly saving them as much as $2,000 a day as the sail replaces 20% of their fuel costs.

Seattle joins other cities in banning the purchase of bottled water through city funds.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
NewYorkCity intends to replace the town car limo-service fleets with 30mpg vehicles by the end of 2010.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
That Walmart fluid-cooling system is less wasteful and more efficient than your link's use of "evaporation" may imply. It isn't a swamp cooler. And dry air as found in desert and near-desert climes of the West are ideal for operating such systems.

Start at page74 for the HE.2 system being used in the LasVegas pilot project. Interesting stuff follows, though the pdf is basicly a powerpoint sales presentation so there's a lot less detail than might be desired.

[ March 21, 2008, 11:11 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by The White Whale (Member # 6594) on :
Al Gore et al. have launched a new marketing campaign to educate and activate the public on issues of global warming.

Here's a New York Times Article:
Gore Group Plans Ad Blitz on Global Warming

The first ad...compares the challenge of fighting global warming to the invasion of Normandy and the civil rights movement.

That advertisement will start appearing on television Wednesday, according to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group created by Mr. Gore in 2006. It will be followed by ads tailored to particular audiences and media, including the Internet.

Here's a Link to said advertisement.

And a link to their website:
WE can solve the climate crisis

Good old Al Gore.
Posted by DarkKnight (Member # 7536) on :
The Clean Energy Scam
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I've read the TIME article DK. I'd say it's 75% dead on. It leaves out a lot, like a real discussion on cellulosic ethanol, farming subsidies and ethanol tariffs that keep Brazilian sugarcane ethanol out of the US and keep us dependent on corn ethanol. It also leaves out that much of ethanol could be grown on land that is currently depleted to most other agriculture and isn't growing foodstuffs at the moment.

But mostly? It's right. Corn based ethanol biofuels are the DEVIL. EVIL! I've been saying that since this thread first started (I'll do a big post later tonight by the way, I haven't done an update in awhile, sorry). The US government is the main culprit as far as I am concerned. Their subsidies are what is screwing with the price of food and what is causing farmers to switch their crops in droves, and I think it is driving the destruction of the Amazon. I think they should cut subsidies, give a lot of funding to research of cellulosic ethanol so that one day a non food crop source of biofuel can become viable, and they need to stop forcing an untenable, wasteful, polluting fuel on us!


Thanks for the link DK. I just want to say that though corn based ethanol is the devil, not all biofuels are bad, and technology is really starting to hit home on some better forms of biofuel that'll be good for us. I expect in the future that biofuel will play a small but important role in our transportation infrastructure, but, in the near term? It's just evil.
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
But mostly? It's right. Corn based ethanol biofuels are the DEVIL. EVIL! I've been saying that since this thread first started
Nuh-uh! It wasn't 'till like, the second day. I checked. [Wink]

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Damned fact checkers! [Grumble]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
This will come in two parts:

SoCal has a huge new solar movement starting soon. The idea is to cover thousands of roofs in three counties with thin film solar panels. The result? 250 MW of power that will provide energy for 162,000 homes. Thin-Film solar is actually pretty cheap, all things considered, and by putting the panels right on the roofs, you don't have to spend much extra on T&D lines like you sometimes do for renewables. Hopefully we'll see this replicated in more places. They plan to install a MW a week for five years until they reach 250MW.

New York City council approves measures similar to London's congestion plans. What this means? In some of the heavily traveled areas of Manhatten, you'll have to pay $8 for a regular car to drive there between 6am and 6pm. Parking rates and taxi fees will also be increased. $21 for trucks, though only $7 for LEVs. The estimated $491 million in revenue this will bring in will go to improve transit systems in New York, and trust me, they need it. The NYC subway system is crumbling in many places, and the reason it is so slow in many places is because it's too dangerous to have them go as fast as they COULD go. The other benefits should be easing congestion from people choosing to avoid these areas.

Big Florida utility invests in California's green power boom.

Study from Uni. of Wash. suggests algae and fast growing trees may be best biofuel crops.

More later...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
There's a treasure trove of good news today!

Another cellulosic ethanol plant, this one I believe using wood chips and wood waste has gotten funding.

Eestor, the fabled company that has a game changing energy storage system, has announced that they will provide batteries to ZENN Motors in Fall of 2009.

Petrosun announced that today they will commence opereations on their 4.4 million gallon per year Algae biofuel plant. This one is actually good news. Algae could prove to be a game changer in the long run. In similar news, Green Fuels Technology has begun construction of their own algae plant. The fuel source for these algae growers? CO2 derived directly from commercial power plants.

Want to see the SkySail on commercial shipping that I've been talking about in action? Click here for a video of how they work and see them in action.

GM's Bob Lutz says that to some degree, most vehicles will be hybrids by 2020. I think that might be an overexageration. Plenty of cars today get great MPG without being hybrids, but even if it's true, it's fine with me.

Tensions heat up over potentially vast oil reserves in the Arctic, which could be as much as twice what Saudi Arabia has. It ends with the following warning:

The EU report was just the latest in a string of recent warnings about potential clashes over Arctic resources - including a prediction from former U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Scott Borgerson of possible armed conflict between the U.S. and Canada over Arctic sovereignty.

"The United States should not underestimate Canadian passions on this issue," Borgerson, a fellow at the influential Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in an article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. "Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict."

University of Maryland discovery could be revolutionary way to turn trash into ethanol.

Proposed "Clean Energy Tower" for Chicago is both beautiful and a potential big advancement in Green architecture. New integreated wind turbines and solar panels could power and ventilate the building without outside power.

Featured Article

Saving the best for last of this group of articles: New wind turbine design is based on jet engines. These turbines harvest three to four times as much power from the air, can operate at higher efficiency, are safer, can be placed closer together, and can work at much higher wind speeds than traditional prop turbines, and the good news doesn't end there. It's a new technology just in the beginning phases, but it shows a lot of promise, and could potentially change the wind industry entirely. I'll try and find more news about it as it comes out, I don't know if they've even built a test model yet, but I love news like this.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
NYC could be first US city to get Bus Rapid Transit system, a system that may prove cheaper and more efficient than underground subways.

The great Pacific garbage vortex.

And why it might be our permanant reality.

Another Featured Article
Limited edition cabinet has a special glowing ecopaint that collects sunlight and glows at night. In this case? It's a glowing moon, and it's one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Annoying as this might be after awhile, I seriously want one.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Some great updates today. I've decided that from now on, for the most part, I'm going to leave out announcements of new solar plants starting up unless they are using some new technology to do so. I read three different announcements today on 500MW+ plants that are newly being planned for various parts of the US, and I think we might be at the point where announcements of plans and financing just isn't big news anymore, we may have reached the point where it's commonplace. We'll see how that works in practice.

Shedding light on thin film nanosolar efficiency research

NanoSolar, a company that makes thin film solar cells has gotten another huge boost in funding from a European energy provider.

After years of debate, the Department of Energy has implemented standards for Energy Star certification of water heaters. Water heaters, by percentage, are the biggest users of power in your home. It includes standards for tankless and tank water heaters.

And in honor of this announcement (or a skeptical person might say that they planned this with the DOE), GE has announced that they have two new water heaters coming out within the next year that will meet and beat these new standards, meaning big savings in money and energy. Given recent statements made by fellow Hatrackers, I'm still out to lunch on tankless water heaters. They look like an awesome idea, but I've yet to actually try one out myself. I like HOT water for my showers. I'm less concerned with capacity, it seems they have more than enough, than I am with how hot they get the water. But regardless, even the new hybrid tank heater has a 50% efficiency improvement. That's nothing to shake a stick at.

Democratic Senators Maria Cantrell and John Ensign have introduced new legislation to renew the Renewable Tax Credit in the Senate. This is another try after they failed to get it into the Energy Bill and failed to get it passed via funding from the oil tax breaks. It looks like it will get a straight up or down vote, and I think it will have broad support from a lot of states with Green sector jobs in them, especially out West. The Clean Energy Stimulus Act of 2008 is the name.

New commercialized version of MIT invention could bring the cost of solar down even further while retaining efficiency.

New study finds that forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council have less deforestation and fewer wildfires.

Free Flow Power Corp. seeks to install hydrokinet turbines beneath Mississippi River to net 1.6GW of power from the river. This won't happen until an environmental study is done to see the effect such a net of turbines would have on the wildlife in the river, but, barring any problems, it could power 1.5 million homes!

Michigan struggles for Wind Power. This is about the hurdles in the way of bringing more wind power to Michigan, specifically to the Great Lakes.

To highlight and explain the goal and struggle for alternative power in Michigan right now, here is what Governor Jennifer Granholm had to say about it in her 2008 State of the State address:

Why alternative energy? Because - to borrow a line from Wayne Gretzky - if you want to win, "don't skate to where the puck is - skate to where the puck is going."

The puck is going to alternative energy.

Any time you pick up a newspaper from here on out and see the terms "climate change" or "global warming," just think: "jobs for Michigan."

Because of the need to reduce global warming and end our dependence on expensive foreign oil, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries will create millions of good paying jobs.

There's no question that these jobs are coming to our nation. The only question is, where?

I say we will win these jobs for Michigan and replace the lost manufacturing jobs with a whole new, growing sector.

Why us? Because, no other state - indeed few places in the world - have what we have to offer: our wind, our water, our woods - and thanks to the working men and women of Michigan - our skilled workforce.

Look at each of these resources.

The unique geography of our peninsulas makes us windy. Experts have said that we have the second best potential for wind generation and production in the country. In fact, the wind turbines we'd use to capture that power can be built right here in Michigan, because we have what's needed: manufacturing infrastructure; available factory space; a skilled workforce. And water - the Great Lakes - are one of the best ways to ship these huge turbines.

That Pure Michigan water will do even more for us. The natural movement, the waves of our Great Lakes waters, creates enormous energy. We are talking with businesses right now about coming to Michigan to convert water currents into electric currents.

And wood! The wood waste from the pulp and paper industry is being used to produce the next generation of biofuels. Cutting-edge companies like Mascoma, Chemrec, NewPage, and others are turning wood waste into fuel for your vehicles, and they want to come here because of our vast sustainable forests.

Our automotive base is also a huge asset: we are the automotive research capital of the world, and we are building the engines of the future - hybrids, clean diesel, electric, fuel cells, flexfuel - all of that is being, and will continue to be, researched, designed, and produced right here in Michigan.

There may be one or two other states that are sunnier than we are, but we are already a huge player in the solar energy industry. We have in Michigan the world's largest producer of the stuff that makes solar panels work. Polycrystalline silicon. Made by Hemlock Semiconductor right here in Michigan. They are in the middle of a billion dollar expansion, hiring 500 people in the Saginaw area. They have even bigger plans. And just last week, Dow Solar Solutions announced it was locating a new $52 million manufacturing facility in Midland, focusing on solar energy generating building materials. Saginaw Valley can be the Silicon Valley for the alternative energy business!

Even waste is being used: companies are taking household trash in landfills and converting it to green energy - the Lansing Board of Water and Light is doing it right now. Farms are turning animal waste into methane gas. Opportunities are everywhere in Michigan to create green energy.

Michigan must do as any successful business does. To compete, we need to capitalize on our natural advantages. For us, it's our geography and our history. Auto ingenuity. And our solar edge. Wind. Woods. Water. Workforce. Even waste. If we do this right, Michigan can be the alternative energy capital of North America, and create thousands and thousands of jobs.

But, for Michigan to win the race for those high-paying jobs, we have to out-hustle the competition. How?

First, we must commit as a state to use alternative energy to meet our own energy needs.

To understand the connection between renewable energy and jobs, just look at Sweden - a country with striking resemblances to our state: the same size population, similar geography with two-thirds of their land covered by forests, a strong automotive sector. Sweden set high goals for their use of renewable energy. The result? They created over 2,000 businesses and 400,000 jobs in their renewable energy sector. 400,000 jobs!

Alternative energy companies have watched closely as 25 other states have set aggressive goals for their alternative energy use. We have to meet and beat other states' goals here in Michigan if we are going to attract those companies here. That's why I am asking the Legislature to set ambitious alternative energy goals for Michigan - produce 10 percent of our electrical energy from renewable sources by the year 2015 and a full 25 percent by the year 2025. Thank you Sen. Patterson and Representative Accavitti for working to craft the bipartisan legislation that will transform our state.

There is no way to overestimate the importance of setting state renewable energy use goals when it comes to creating jobs.

Tonight, I'm announcing that our state's largest utilities are poised to make one of the world's largest investments in alternative energy and energy efficiency, creating upwards of 17,000 jobs in Michigan.

As soon as this Legislature acts on a comprehensive energy package, Consumers Energy and DTE will begin to jointly invest up to $6 billion in Michigan - much of it to build wind turbines and wind farms to produce electricity and to help businesses and homeowners install energy saving technologies. $6 billion. 17,000 jobs.

It's not often the Legislature gets to cast a vote that will create that many jobs. But you have that opportunity right now. For the sake of our people, I urge you to get it done.

A renewable energy goal is a powerful tool to attract alternative energy jobs, but there are other tools, too. We are going to create Centers of Excellence across the state to bring alternative energy companies and Michigan universities together to create new products and new jobs. I'm also asking you to pass tax incentives for anchor companies in the alternative energy sector that get their suppliers to also locate in Michigan.

And to make sure that ethanol is made here and sold here and is competitive with gasoline, I'm asking you once again to eliminate the gas tax for fuel purchases of ethanol and biodiesel at gas stations.

If only I could vote for her again.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A few regular announcements, and then I'll close with an update on one of my favorite topics, the Chevy Volt.

Frito-lay uses sun power to make SunChips.

SeaGen installs world's largest tidal stream system, a 1.2MW dual rotor sytem, off the coast of Northern Ireland.

New nanomaterial turns radiation directly into energy. Could mean big things for nuclear power, space exploration and other areas.

Details on a couple of recent battery breakthroughs

New coal plant planned for Nevada could end up being a bad investment if taking future carbon costs into account.

Paris' Orly airport will install a geothermal power plant to reduce their emissions and energy use

Manufacturers cannot keep up with demand for wind turbines. There's a two year world wide backlog of people waiting. Lots of money is being dumped into construction of new factories to build the things. Maybe this will create room for some of the innovative new designs I've seen lately for wind power.

The world's first OLED lamp, and how the world as you know it could be totally relit.

I may give this one its own thread, but, many scientists are concerned that the CERN supercollider might destroy the universe, or at the very least, Earth.

How America wastes its energy.

The "Go Green School of the Week" (whatever the heck that is) is Kingwood Park High School in Kingwood, Texas. Significance? None to you maybe, but three of my cousins went to that school, and my aunt teaches there!

Recycling wasted energy from polluting power sources. Recycling "junk" energy from coal and other fossil fuel powered plants could supply 20% of the nation's power! The term coined for this non-green power source is "grey" power. Hey, it's available today and it could cut back on the need for more coal power plants, so I'm board as a temporary fix to our problems.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A small separate post for the Volt, if you please. This won't be quite as cool as I was hoping because apparently the audio links aren't working on autobloggreen, so you can't hear any of what I'm sure are very cool interviews with the tech people:

Here is some news on the development of the battery systems for the Volt.

Some descriptions of the planned interior and a stolen image of the interior with a description of how it starts.

It seems they are progressing on schedule with this thing, and we might actually see it for sale in two and a half years. I don't have a prayer of being able to afford one, even if they do come in at their $30,000 target, for several years, but as soon as I get the money I'd love to get one, assuming it's reasonably comfortable and performs to spec.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Ok, the lamp windows from your OLED link are really cool. I'd like some of those.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
It's the wave of the future AR.

OLEDs are still a very, very new technology. They are a leap ahead of LEDs in technology, and LEDs aren't even close to being standard yet. I think we have a good 10 to 20 years before you start seeing houses and offices built with integrated OLED technology in mind. But you'll see them in use in smaller applications like computer and other screens very soon, because they can be wafer thin and use considerably less energy than traditional displays, and yet still offer HD quality.
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
(Bad) news out of Kansas:

The Kansas Senate has overridden Governor Sebelius's veto to block expansion of the Holcomb coal-power plant. The House has yet to do their political act, and I have no idea what that entails. Bets are on the side of the electric company, in this case. It's too bad...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
It's not set in stone yet. The override vote in the House hasn't happened, and until recently no one thought they had the votes for it. But it might go through. The majority leader thinks he has the votes for the override later this week (tomorrow actually I think).

There were some competing compromises floating around. Sebelius said she would sign a bill for one power plant if the rest of the energy came from wind, but the Republicans said no. The utility originally said they'd capture half of the million tons of carbon by using algae to sequester it, but Republicans said that was too expensive, and that the technology was too new and nixed that too.

It looks like at this point it's likely to pass. It could end up costing them quite a bit in the long run if the worldwide price of coal goes up and the next Administration in the White House gets CO2 regulation legislation passed.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Little update today.

New type of motor oil could save almost 3 billion gallons of gas.

New York State Assembly quashes Bloomberg's plan to ease traffic congesion in NYC.

Book industry greatly increases amount of post consumer recycled content in new books. [/U [URL=]Germany adds nearly 90,000 renewable energy jobs in three years.

New algae biofuel process involves injecting sugar and growing in the dark.

Featured Article
New Toshiba bulb lasts 12,000 hours, 1.2 times that of a common CFL, and only uses 10 watts of power. They come in three colors and look exactly like a regular incandescent.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Try for the sugar-fed algae. Something's misfiring in the original address.
The article's gotta be a missing point or two. Feeding a (derivative from a) food crop to algae doesn't make sense.

And $6to$10 for one CFL? Been getting mine for less than $3 apiece in Costco 8packs, and that's including the sales tax.
Admittedly it's been a couple of years since I've bought any. Darn CFLs, won't burn out so I can stay current on prices.

Looking ahead vs what's wrong with American auto executives.

[ April 15, 2008, 11:57 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Tsk tsk! First off, at least GM and Ford have serious hydrogen fuel cell cars ready to go. I haven't been posting them, but I've read articles lately about some American auto execs pushing for a hyrdogen infrastructure because they want to be selling these cars in ten years. But even more so, plucking a random excessively wasteful American car out of a large lineup of cars, and plucking a randomly futuristic hydrogen Japanese car out of a large lineup of cars is vastly unfair. Japanese car companies make big trucks and SUVs that are wasteful and old school, and American car companies are scrapping plans to make V8's in favor of smaller sedans and all of them are bringing over subcompacts from Europe to the American market. And despite Japanese reluctance and naysaying, GM is still surging forth with Plug in Electric technology, even with Honda and Toyota badmouthing them the whole way. You paint a one sided picture.

Chance television show leads Malaysian researcher to discover vastly cheaper process to produce advanced aerogels. Aerogels are a great insulater and have a lot of advantages over others like fiberglass (mostly air, great sound supressers, etc.)

Wal-Mart to meet with Chinese suppliers in an attempt to Green their global supply chain.

Marriott committs $2 million to protecting Amazonian rainforest, cutting water use and Greening their supply chain as well.

A long, bad year for coal.

LEDs and OLEDs nearing readiness for mass market home use.

Smart grid planned for US city, plans made in Europe

Wall Street bankers and businesses call on Congress to pass renewable tax credit.

Seven selling points for solar.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
NYC and Boston take baby steps towards solar.

New Sylvania CFL has only 1.5 miligrams of mercury.

Zenn Motors promises 250 mile range EV that can charge in five minutes...Eestor, in 2009.

Solar power ITC being tacked onto the Housing Bill.

LEDs hit prime time. New bulb will fit in regular sockets, last 10 to 15 years, produce 100W illumination for 13W of power, and no mercury. It comes with some sticker shock, but it's a new technology, and even at what they cost, they're STILL more cost effective than even CFLs are, because they last 50,000+ hours and produce so much light at such low wattage.

New process cuts cost of solar panel home installation in half. The savings aren't totally realized yet, but, in the future they could drop a lot more.

Senate passes the Housing Bill with the solar ITC in it.

ERCOT (Texas' regional energy authority) says that wind power in Texas is well worth the cost, even necessary.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
"Tsk tsk!"

The point wasn't the fuel cell cars: the page contained a link specificly citing US automakers participation in developing the technology. The point was how problems are approached.

Not enough hydrogen refilling stations to make mass auto sales feasible? Honda develops home-based hydrogen generators. Not a particularly good idea -- unless in conjunction of cogeneration -- but nonetheless a way to get over the hump of "...there ain't enough refilling stations to sell cars cuz there ain't enough cars to financially justify the building of refilling stations cuz..."

GM has problems selling a Cadillac model cuz it's fuddy duddy. Instead of going the "luxury means cutting edge engineering" route, GM executives decide to waste the same amount of money to fake luxury by splashing on a few random gew gaws.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Meanwhile, the InternationalMonetaryFund furthers its mission to destroy the ThirdWorld for few more quick bucks into the pockets of the wealthy-and-worthless.

[ April 16, 2008, 03:44 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
BTW: Honda's hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity is going to become available to the public this summer.
Betcha that people will be buying homes in the test region just to get their hands on the car.

And the WorldBank is pretending that it cares about famine. Conveniently ignoring the fact that it has spent the entirety of its existence encouraging governments to kick subsistance farmers off their land so that the land could be "better" used to produce cash crops such as cotton, cocoa, coffee, flowers, shrimp, cocaine, heroin, etc for the FirstWorld instead of food for the ThirdWorld.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In a demonstration of their faith in magic, the Greens are screwing up Germany's ability to meet Kyoto goals by replacing nuclear powerplants with coal-fired powerplants to produce even more power for increased future demand.
What's funny about this is that Japan, Germany, the UK, etc are all vastly increasing and/or intending to vastly increase the amount of coal they are burning to produce electricity. And are condemning the US for failure to sign the KyotoAccords.....while the US has been decreasing its use of coal.

Nice thing about magic: all ya hafta do is mutter a few words, and reality ceases to be a barrier to achieving ones desires.

Showing solidarity with that belief in magic, EuropeanUnion ministers are insisting that EU members must go ahead with their plans to make biofuel out of food to meet the Kyoto carbon emissions goals.....even though such biofuel production will cause greater greenhouse gas production through destruction of carbon-storing forests/etc to create more farmland. Then again, knowing European history, they might just be counting on a die-off of ThirdWorlders through artificially induced famine.

[ April 16, 2008, 12:37 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
Interesting tidbit from the Kansas Executive branch of government...

This came to me via an instructor, who received it from someone in the Kansas Department of Education. Most of us are following the wind energy saga in Kansas with unique interest. After months of preparation, preceeded by years of planning and conniving, the Meridian Way wind farm held it's symbolic ground-breaking.

Once completed, this farm will have the largest wind turbines in the United States (or perhaps North America...) and it will also be the largest collection of these turbines. There's rumor and discussion of possible expansion. With plenty of land, community support, and (maybe) some government incentive, that could happen. [Smile]

I *might* be able to provide pictures of this, eventually, given that it's happening practically in my backyard. [Smile]

On to the news!


The following is by Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson:

The New Harvest

Scientists have long debated climate change. Now the debate has shifted course. Whether or not climate change is real is no longer the question.

The question we now face is: what can we do to combat it?

Farmers have always relied on the sun for the energy to grow their crop. Now farmers can rely on wind. Wind energy is lucrative, accessible and can bring an economic renaissance for rural America.

With growing concerns over climate change and the Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming greenhouse gas regulation, states have been setting their sights on the future through cleaner natural resources for power.

In fact, of all the renewable resources, wind has proven to be the clear breadwinner. And it’s only getting better.

Several Midwest states have already taken advantage of wind resources. In the past, Kansas has lagged behind other states – but we’re catching up. When Governor Kathleen Sebelius and I teamed up two years ago only 3% of our state’s energy came from wind. By the end of this year we will be only the seventh state in the nation with over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of wind online - 10% of the total electricity produced in Kansas.

We’ll be the only state to have accomplished this without a government mandate. The Governor has accomplished this with voluntary agreements from utilities.

Like every emerging industry, realizing the economic benefits takes time. In Kansas, the time for wind has come. National wind mapping estimates show that Kansas has the potential to be a leader in wind production as the third windiest state in America.

Landowners with wind turbines on their property receive lease payments in the thousands, millions of construction dollars energize local economies, and hundreds of new skilled jobs have emerged. Roads are revitalized and new transmission lines are built to support future growth.

This is Kansas wind, clean and plentiful, and we are already on our way.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Good stuff Tstorm! Hopefully Kansas can be a great model for what other nearby plains states, and states with high wind potential in general can accomplish if they want to.

We'll start with auto related news.

EU says no to reviewing biofuel policy.

McCain calls for summer break from gas tax. I'm sure you all know how I feel about this. It's a tiny bit of money, and the result will be that more people will drive instead of cutting back on their summer driving. It's an irresponsible move that will raise the deficit cause more oil to be used.

GM has give the Volt team a blank check in their rush to bring the car to market.

Waste Management breaks ground on second trash to energy plant.

Highly successful Recycle Bank raises $30 million, expands US services and heads to Europe. I just have to repeat how much I love this program.

Refined "power shirt" could be boon for soldiers, hikers, and more.

Comparing emissions on hybrids, electric gas, and conventional cars.

British professor hopes to make chemical solar cheaper than silicon solar some day.

Chrysler plans Dodge Ram hybrid in 2010.

GE wind turbine sales up 40%, mostly to Europe, but is $12 billion behind in deliveries due to incredibly high demand. GE may have to stop taking orders.

University of Washington sets record for efficiency with new "popcorn ball" design for cheap solar cells. Increases efficiency 258%.

Solar walls save energy at Fort Drum

Arise Tech to build silicon plant in Canada for high efficiency panels.

The Lieberman-Warner bipartisan Climate Change bill is expected to hit the Senate floor in June, and be more aggressive than McCain's attempt. The EPA has analyzed the bill and has released a 189 page report on it. I plan to read it in my free time, but it's the size of a small book so, it'll be awhile.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Bipartisan? Anything with Lieberman's name on it is a reflection of Dubya's fondest dreams, like Lieberman's "compromise" on SupremeCourt nominees.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Yeah I saw that article on The Hill yesterday.

But S2191 is still the toughest measure to date, it has mandatory caps, a trade system, will result in a massive reduction in carbon in emissions and a huge boost to renewable energy production.

It seems to focus pretty heavily on the changeover from regular coal to "advance coal with carbon capture" but it takes into account that this tech won't be read for 20 years. I've read some of the document above in the last day. Frankly I think it's too progressive to get passed by the Republicans in Congress, but it was written by a solid Conservative and a Conservative pseudo Democrat. But this is the first cap & trade bill that will make it out of Committee in the Senate. That alone is pretty amazing. It's pretty comprehensive too, though I don't really get all the details, the language is too much and the analysis leaves out some details that makes the other details understandable.

The bill won't get passed until after Pres. Bush is out of office either way, because there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of him signing it, but that kind of opposition is part of what makes me like it.
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
McCain calls for summer break from gas tax. I'm sure you all know how I feel about this. It's a tiny bit of money, and the result will be that more people will drive instead of cutting back on their summer driving. It's an irresponsible move that will raise the deficit cause more oil to be used.
Not to mention that the gas tax is arguably the fairest tax in our system. Gas taxes go exclusively to paying for roads. Cutting the gas tax will either mean neglecting maintenance of roads that are already in serious trouble (remember the bridge in MN last summer), or passing the cost of driving on to someone else.

This is just one of those election year "bribes" for the voters that shows you exactly how wrong it is to think of the current incarnation of the republican party as fiscally responsible.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I would say that now is the time to come out with more funding for battery research for electric cars and more funding for non-food crop biofuels, but I've been reading a lot of news lately out of the NREL and the DOE and DOA that says we're actually doing fairly well on that front recently. I guess more money never hurts, but, I can't say the government is doing nothing on that front. Plus the Senate passed the RTC. Gas prices being high is the best time to introduce all those things, but it looks like McCain got beat to the punch every time. I still wonder why he thinks oil companies need billions in tax breaks though.
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
I still wonder why he thinks oil companies need billions in tax breaks though.
It seems like this must be a requirement for registration in the republican party.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Probably more like the expectation that a piece of those billions will make it back to their own campaign coffers. Don't get me wrong, Democrats take money from oil companies too, but you can hardly say they seriously represent oil interests, or that their oil money will make or break their campaign.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
On oil contributions:

"As of Feb. 29, Obama's presidential campaign had received nearly $214,000 from oil and gas industry employees and their families, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Clinton had received nearly $307,000 from industry workers and their families and Republican Sen. John McCain, the likely GOP presidential nominee, received nearly $394,000, according to the center's totals."
And two of Obama's fundraisers are oil company executives: Robert Cavnar, the chairman and chief executive of Houston-based Mission Resources Corp., and George Kaiser, the president and CEO of Tulsa-based Kaiser-Francis Oil Co.

Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
I think the second part, having oil company executives as fundraisers, is potentially a matter of influence and seems a bit hypocritical. But the first part I just don't get what the issue is - individual donations from people who work in a certain industry are not the same as taking money from lobbyists or a PAC. I donated money to Obama's campaign, so by that standard he's accepted money from bed industry employees.

I see a huge difference between that and when I worked for a certain long distance company that had a PAC they strongly encouraged employees to give money to, and they flat-out told us the funds were given to politicians who supported regulation or deregulation that benefited the company. If I gave money through the PAC it definitely had strings attached, but if I donated individually to a candidate it was not on behalf of the phone company.

Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
No offense Dag but, what's your point?
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Solar City offers residents chance to get solar panels installed on homes with no money down. This is a residential version of a commercial idea. They install and own the panels on your home, and you pay a greatly reduced electricity bill, the difference of which pays the lease on your system, and you get a small kickback for yourself. The installer gets to sell excess energy to the grid (sometimes) but otherwise they become your primary energy distributor at a locked in lower rate, and they get to collect some nice tax incentives from the state and federal government.

Oil and Gas prices hit news highs as President Bush's attempts to get Saudi Arabia to increase production are rebuffed.

America's most endangered rivers.

Potatoes on the rise.

Canada may be first country to label Bisphenol A as a toxic substance. BPA is a product used in water bottles, baby bottles, and hundreds of other products. The fear stems from recent studies that show that chemicals leech from the plastics, and BPA, one of these chemicals, can cause severe developmental issues in youth and possibly cancer in older people. I heard a report about it on NPR today, and it appears the jury is still out, but many aren't taking the risk.

DyeSol invents solar windows, which use regular clear windows to generate power. Some are calling it the biggest thing in solar since the invention of the silicon wafer. They'll be available in two years says the maker, and could turn all buildings installed with them into net energy producers.

EcoGeek scored an interview with the CEO of the company that makes those new jet engine inspired wind turbines I posted about last week. FloDesign says they hope to have them to market in two years, and could easily scale up production rapidly, which only adds to their other amazing potential benefits and advantages.

President Bush today gave a big speech on climate change and his plans to fight it. I won't comment much or break it down, as frankly I don't think it's worth my time. Suffice to say he isn't going to get the job done. You can find the text yourself and read it if you want.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I think Dag had a pretty good point. Sure, McCain got twice as much oil money as Obama, but we're still only talking hundreds of thousands out of their multiple millions of dollars. That can't be a very tight string around the candidates.

I'm going to gripe a moment about the potato article.

As we move toward a reality where there simply isn't enough food to feed the world,
If I learned anything in Archaeology, it's that mankind only innovates when it has a need. Folks in marginal zones are the most likely to come up with something new because they have enough that they don't spend all their time subsistance farming but they aren't so well off that they don't need more. As we use more food, someone is going to come up with a breakthrough new farming technique, crop hybrid, miracle fertilizer, something. I seriously doubt we're going to run out of food.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Great River Energy HQ seeks LEED platinum certification on newly constructed building.

High price of food leads to food rationing?

Britain to be home to biggest wind turbined yet, a 7.5MW monster offshore turbine. I guess if they hope to power the whole country with these things in 20 or 30 years, they'll need something that big.

Silicon shortage may end next year, leading to lower PV system prices.

Oil man commences action on building world's largest, 4GW wind farm.

Another big breakthrough in solar silicon efficiency, this one from the Netherlands.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Deal of the day on Amazon is for CFLs.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
More on Europe's turn toward greater coal use and on America's increasing coal exports.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :,1,1124725.story
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Small scale wind gets more attention. Even presidential attention.

What living "off grid" looks like.

LA considers congestion pricing for drivers.

Oil prices could continue to soar.

XunLight, another thin film solar start up, hits it big with R&D money.

DoD's new solar plane will fly 5 years before landing.

Featured Article Sunrgi claims to have reached cost parity with coal via solar concentrators and high efficiency cells.

More later...
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
MO City becomes the first US city to power whole city from wind power.

Efficiency increaes at power plants could reduce demand by 7-11%

EPA staffers say Administrators playing politics with science and decisions.

Maryland passes first in the nation energy efficiency law.

New Ohio law could create big market for wind.

US to begin serious research and implementation of ocean bed turbines.

Oklahoma Bioenergy is planting a giant switchgrass farm.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
One thing I wish would happen: fuel companies should be required to compute an efficiency number based on the square feet of a residence, the amount of fuel used, and the number of degree days in a year. Then homeowners would have a number they could compare, like comparing gas mileage and such.

This in partly in response to the fact that several of my neighbors are only just now realizing that their houses were built in the 1950's without a shred of insulation. I can't understand how they made it through the 1970's without insulating.

It's also partly in response to my recent discovery that gas and electric companies have apparently stopped performing energy audits on homes. It's not really worth doing, because it's expensive, and you don't come out with any more information than you could get by asking someone if their house is insulated over the phone.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
I haven't seen anything specific, but, you might see something like that in the next 10 years. If we do get emissions legislation with the next Congress, they'll need to eke out every percent of emissions reduction they can get through efficiency, and with the rise in heating costs, they'll have stickers on them the way cars do with efficiency ratings and estimated energy costs per year. I'm betting that as the cost of energy rises more and more, such a regulation, after a couple years of haggling over the formula they'd use to actually produce it, might become something you see so home buyers have a real gauge to compare with. I'm betting that is still a ways off though.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Earth losing dirt (top soil) at alarming rate.
Posted by Enigmatic (Member # 7785) on :
I have a question for the green news watchers. The other day on NPR I heard a brief story about "feed-in tariffs" in some european countries and the push to do something similar here. Basically it's a law saying that if you're producing solar or wind power in your home and feeding it into the grid, the power company has to pay you for the electricity. Opponents to passing that kind of law here say that it results in higher energy prices for everyone else because the power company pays the micro-producer far more than it costs to generate the power at the power plant. In Germany they said it was seven times more.

So the question is, why not pass the feed-in tariff but just have the amount paid for feed-in power be the same or nearly the same as what the power company charges consumers for the power? Why would it have to be paying home producers more than what the end consumer is paying for it?

Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
Greensburg rebuilding "Green" (


GREENSBURG, Kansas (CNN) -- There are still piles of bricks and rubble on countless streets in Greensburg, Kansas, a year after a tornado demolished more than 90 percent of the town.

Yet what is happening in the city's rebuilding process may not only re-invent Greensburg but provide a model for "green" building everywhere.

Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
So the question is, why not pass the feed-in tariff but just have the amount paid for feed-in power be the same or nearly the same as what the power company charges consumers for the power? Why would it have to be paying home producers more than what the end consumer is paying for it?

As I understand it, when you feed into the grid, your electric meter runs backwards. The electric company can't distinguish between someone who consumes 80% from the grid and feeds in 20%, from someone who feeds in 80% and consumes 20%. In order to do so, you'd have to feed out on one set of lines, and in on another, with two different meters.

Consequently, if you feed in to the grid, the power company only charges you for the consumption that shows on the meter, which means that when the meter runs backwards, you are actually being paid at the same rate the power company charges its regular customers.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I'm betting that as the cost of energy rises more and more, such a regulation, after a couple years of haggling over the formula they'd use to actually produce it, might become something you see so home buyers have a real gauge to compare with. I'm betting that is still a ways off though.
I don't see why the formula should be a problem. divide the number of BTUs by the square footage of the house and again by the number of degree days.

In 2006 I used 1058 gallons. That's 147 MMBTU, divided by 1400 square feet, divided by 6390 degree days. That's 16.4.

The heating company already has two of those numbers, the only thing they probably don't have is the square feet of the house.

Out of curiosity, for anyone who reads this thread, I'd be really interested to see what numbers you come up with for your houses, just so I get a feeling where I stand with mine.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
New meters can be installed that can gauge how much you're sending out and how much you are using. Smart Meters. Having your meter run backwards only helps to eliminate the supplemental energy you get from the power company. It does nothing to pay for the other excess you produce that is used by the utilities. If you don't use any from them and are totally off-grid, then it's really no help at all.

I've read a bit on feed in tariffs in Britain, and they are overly complicated and produce little results. I think power companies should establish a base rate and then pay homes that produce excess power during peak hours.

TStorm -

I didn't read the link but, there's going to be a Discovery Channel special on Greensburg and how they are rebuilding the town using all green tech and sustainable methods. Should be interesting.
Posted by Tstorm (Member # 1871) on :
Does sound interesting. I don't get the Discovery Channel via TV (no cable or satellite service), but hopefully it will be put on the web.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
Glenn: and they could almost certainly get the square feet (at least the number registered with the county) easily enough most places. Heck, Indiana has such good GIS data available that it goes down to the per-parcel level, including info about what's built there.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Fuel company? Gallons of heating? This is one of those northern things, right?

I'm not sure what we'd need for a southern equivalent. I just tell the AC what temp I want the house to be and it does it. I have no idea how to seperate that out from the rest of the electricity used.
Posted by Pegasus (Member # 10464) on :
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
I don't see why the formula should be a problem. divide the number of BTUs by the square footage of the house and again by the number of degree days.

In 2006 I used 1058 gallons. That's 147 MMBTU, divided by 1400 square feet, divided by 6390 degree days. That's 16.4.

If you explain to me what "degree days" are, I'll try to calculate my house, even though I heat with K1.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Just compare your summer electric bills with your winter electric bills to determine the baseload vs. air conditioning load. Or to be more precise, determine the month with the smallest cooling degree days and use that as the baseload. Do you have electic heating in the winter? You must at least have a few cold nights at some point in the year.

Fugu: I think most homeowners know their square footage, or can get it easily enough from their tax assessment. It would be simple enough to supply that to the fuel company. That's part of my point. This number would be very simple to determine, and it would give people a very simple way of determining whether their house is in need of efficiency improvements. As I said before, my neighbors had ZERO insulation in their houses, and never realized that they were paying for way more oil than they should be.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
Oh, definitely, I'm just saying the fuel company would even be able to get it in an automated fashion in many places.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
The nice thing about an apartment is that I've very rarely needed to turn on the heat. Everyone being pressed up against each other tended to keep the warmth in. I expect I'll pay more this winter since we moved and I now have windows and a pretty view out back. Totally worth it, though.

So I'd subtract my average winter KWHs from my average summer KWHs to get my ACs KWHs used? I'd divide that by the square feet, but then I'm also lost on the next step. What's a degree day and why are there so many of them?
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
What's a degree day and why are there so many of them?
A degree day is a number that heating companies (originally) used in order to figure out when a heating customer would need an oil delivery. Now there are many more uses. It's simply the average temperature over time, subtracted from the temperature at which homeowners are warm enough without turning on the heat (about 65 F). You can find the number of degree says in your area from a variety of sources. For example, the number of heating and cooling degree days for Miami are on this real estate page:

Miami degree days.

A more in depth explanation is here, on wikipedia:

Heating degree day.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Here's a better source: National Climactic Data Center
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Also, if you're working on cooling degree days, you'll need to multiply kilowatt hours times 3413 to find BTUs.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Ok. The city says we used:

421 Apr 07
371 May 07
558 Jun 07
445 Jul 07
657 Aug 07
591 Sep 07
477 Oct 07
463 Nov 07

I think the formula would be: average difference in kWHs used x 3413 for BTUs / 750 square feet / 813.5 degree days (Apr to Nov). So if I had an average of 433 for the cool months and 563 for the warm months, that would give me a difference of 130. I assume I multiply that by the 8 months I had data for. So 1040 kWHs * 3413 BTUs / 750 sq ft / 813.5 degree days gives me 5.8.

Assuming I did that right, my last apartment was actually pretty darn efficient, even with the house at 75 degrees most of the year. (The thermostat didn't work right. It was that or over 80. Then again, the thermostat here in the new place thinks it's 72 while the temperature strip the city taped above it shows a pleasant 77. Maybe we kept it warmer than I thought we did.)
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
How many walls floors and ceilings did you share with other apartments (or enclosed hallways)?

Yes, apartments are very efficient, due to the "bee hive" effect.
Posted by Pegasus (Member # 10464) on :
Ok, I think I use about 400 gal. of Kerosene per year.

400 gal. of kerosene = about 51,362,200 BTU so...

51,362,200 BTU divided by 912 sq. ft. divided by 15,092 degree days °F (8,384 °C)= 3.73 °F or 6.72 °C

I think I did that right.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
There were other apartments on all but one side, eight to a building, two deep. Then there was a hallway just wide enough for a couple people to squeeze past each other before the next building. Nice and toasty.

My new apartment only has four to a building, but again, the view out back is worth it.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
6.72°F = ~3.73°C . . . . When converting temperature change:
1.8 degrees Fahrenheit = 1 degree Celsius . . . . 1 degree Fahrenheit = 5/9ths degree Celsius
eg 3.73°F = ~2.07°C . . . . 6.72°C = ~12.1°F

[ May 06, 2008, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Dumping gas guzzlers.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Reports from various institutions (Goldman Sachs is one) say that oil could reach $200 a barrel in 24 months, that gas will be over $4 a gallon this summer, and could be as high as $7 by the start of the next decade.

I'll do a full post later tonight on various news updates.
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Peak Water
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Cleaning up two-stroke engines AND delivering better gas mileage.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I was thinking that this would still be applicable for dirt bikes here in the U.S., but I checked and it turned out that the only dirt bikes I could find were 4-strokes. I wonder how the retrofitted 2-strokes compare with 4-strokes, in fuel efficiency, pollution, and cost.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to this. Hopefully I'll get on regular updates more often.

Texas oilman bets big on wind power.

US to use half the power in 2008 that it used in 1970, with much more potential for efficiency gains. I find that hard to believe. I wonder if they mean per capita. I'll have to read the report.

University of Virginia students turn useless rice husks into power and money in India.

Seagen hydrokinetic turbine installation complete in Ireland.

Minnesota enacts new law to mandate B20 in all gasoline, but it'll come in stages, and some from non-food crops.

House passes Renewable Energy Tax Credit bill amidst grumblings from Senate and veto threats from the White House.

GM's legacy: Live Green or Die.

There's a bunch of good (some overlapping) stuff right now at Ecogeek and Envirowonk. Feel free to browse the top page. There's just too many good articles to pick out a couple, and those sites are more of a pain to link specific articles. Enjoy.

World's largest wind farm, 500MW, enters construction phase off UK coast.

DuPont enters thin film solar field.

Algae farms go north.

Huge potential for wind power on Great Lakes.

Price of wind power dramatically increases due to high demand.

A brewing battle between the states over cap and trade.

[ May 22, 2008, 04:20 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Abu Dhabi to invest $2 billion on thin film solar.

GE aims to cut their global water usage by 20% by 2012.

Coca Cola to deploy 100K HFC free vending machines.

Ontario experiments with zero interest loans for residential renewables. Excellent to see this in practice. This is something I've been wanting to see for some time, and I hope it works out.

Is oil deglobalizing the world? This question is asked in the face of skyrocketing transportation costs, that in many ways have drastically decreased the advantage southeast Asia traditionally has from cheap labor. Could this mean manufacturing is due for a big shift from China to the Americas? Maybe.

Could 20% of America's power needs be met by 2020?

IBM makes big breakthrough in a specialized kind of solar power. I've seen at least one other company claiming basically the same breakthrough.

WIsconsin signs Great Lakes Compact.

Featured Article
Sapphire Energy claims to have created a process to turn algae directly into gasoline, NOT ethanol or biodiesel. If so, it's a huge advancement, especially if their claims of how efficient and economical it is are true.

StatoilHydro announces new plans to test buoyed off-shore wind turbines. These haven't really been tested much. Instead of driving the thing right into the ground, they float on the surface and are tethered or anchored to the ground a few different ways. It allows them to be placed in much greater depths and opens up a lot more options, but no extensive testing has been done on them, and it's unknown how feasible they'll be in operation.
Posted by plaid (Member # 2393) on :
Dunno if this has already been covered in the thread, a search didn't turn it up... any recommendations for LED nightlights? I want to get a few for keeping things cooler in the summer...

(Ideally, a light-sensitive one that's smart enough to only turn on at night!)
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
A quick Amazon search found this.

and this.

There are dozens of them. Just search for LED night light.
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
I got an email at work today that GM may be setting something up with my employer to fuel hydrogen powered vehicles, at least for a demo. In any case, they may be bringing some of them down to my workplace to show them off. Maybe I'll get to drive one.
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
Utilities buying and owning more wind power.

Fungus improves efficiency of Ethanol processing.

Kirtland AFB and Sandia National Lab eye wind farm to provide part of their power needs.