Sunday, September 28, 2008

Colorado Utility Powers Up on Renewable Energy

This shows you the difference between the old way of thinking and the new way of thinking with respect to energy generation. Colorado Springs Utilities in Colorado used to think that coal-fired electricity plants were the way to go. Coal was cheap and was cheaper than any other renewable energy source. But we are moving into a new era where the price of coal will increase because of the difficulty and expense of extraction in addition to the detrimental effects that coal burning does to the atmosphere. Instead of stubbornness, Colorado Springs Utilities decided to think outside the box and explore news ways of not only creating energy from renewable sources but also incenting customers to conserve energy. Read the article, it may just give you some ideas.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

PUC Approves Xcel Plan to Replace Coal Plants with Greener Tech

Via Coyote Gulch blog, good news from Xcel Energy. Their request for retirement of old and inefficient coal-fired power plants to be replaced with greener technologies has been approved by the PUC. Excellent.

Friday, September 26, 2008

House OKs Extending Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Here we go again. It's not that I'm disappointed (obviously) that the RE tax credit bill is up for a vote again, it's that the House and the Senate bills differ. The differences between the bills mean that it may not pass (again) when it goes back to the Senate. As far as I can tell from this article, the House bill adds provisions that help pay for the tax breaks (what that is, I'm not sure) and the House bill also:

"...does not provide tax incentives for refineries to process oil from shale and tar sands or for projects that turn coal into liquid fuel."

I'm glad that refineries for oil from shale and tar sands won't have a tax incentive. Have you seen what they do up in Albert, Canada to squeeze oil out of the tar sands up there? The land is completely demolished. It looks like Mars. Imagine doing this to the Western slope of Colorado. No way.

Update: The Houston Chronicle does a deeper dive on the House bill here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Solar Pioneer Uses His Noodle to Reduce His Heating Bill

This is a great article on what a little hard work and ingenuity can do to reduce some heating bills. A gentleman in Michigan was frustrated at his rising heating bills back in the early 80's and as the article says:

"After taking a solar energy class at a community college, he cobbled together a concept and some wholesale equipment to create a large solar collector on the south side of his Lewis Avenue home."

He built a solar collector from scratch after having taken one class! He said that his house can reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the dead of a freezing Michigan winter and that his monthly heating bill rarely exceeds 40 bucks. Imagine the possibilities and the ideas that will come about if we could retrain some of the U.S. workforce for clean tech jobs. How long do we need to remain at the mercy of rising natural gas bills?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Xcel Expects 12 Percent Rise in Winter Bills

It's going to be a tough winter for a lot of people that depend on natural gas for their heating needs. The article says that the typical residential customer would pay $151 in December. Wow. Perhaps the Colorado Governor's Energy Office could figure out a way to help those with fixed and low incomes get access to low cost or free energy audits. If we were able to retrofit our homes with energy efficient materials (insulation, duct repair, etc.) we could save a ton of money on our heating bills in the winter. Just a thought.

Duke Energy to Invest in Mini Solar Power Plants

This is a good development. Duke Energy is essentially starting a pilot of localized energy production via a solar power plant. Instead of a large power plant in one location this solar power plant will be made up of numerous houses with PV panels on the roof. Duke Energy will study the effects of this method to see if it can replace the typical single location power plant. From the article:

The utility said that next year it plans to start installing solar electric panels at 850 locations in North Carolina that would be capable of generating 16 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 2,600 homes.

Cool. Hopefully the results are positive.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thin-Film Solar Set to Take Market Share From Crystalline Solar PV

This may help provide some competition to the traditional crystalline PV panels (which may help reduce prices of the crystalline panels! See the article below for bad news on prices). Thin-film solar is lighter weight, and easier to apply to existing surfaces than traditional PV panels, which are bulky and heavy. Even though the efficiency of thin-film solar is much lower than the traditional PV panels, you are able to install the thin-film just about anywhere and in mass quantities. Check out this site for a simple description of thin-film solar.

Solar Panel Prices Might Not Decline As Much As Thought

Darn. We could get the double whammy of no extended federal tax credits and PV prices not falling as quickly as expected. This won't help the individual homeowner who'd like to offset his/her electricity needs with some PV. I was looking forward to price decreases in the next couple of years so that my ROI would be quicker. Alas, I guess we'll have to wait.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Take a Virtual Tour of a Geothermal Plant

Check out this informative animation on how a geothermal plant works. It's pretty cool.

Carver Seeks to Put Solar Plant on Route 44

Looks like Carver, Massachusetts wants to put a solar array along a state route. They want to use the array to power their water system. It's refreshing to hear about towns that are thinking out of the "coal generated power plant" box. Go Carver, I hope you get the array.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Solar Energy Can Bring Clean Energy to over 4 Billion People by 2030

Solar energy to 4 billion people! I'm ready. Sign me up. But seriously, like the article says, it will require smart policy by governments. Each day I become more and more convinced that renewable energy is the cure to most of our problems, if, IF our leaders are willing to think about our future.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ouray, Colorado Explores Municipal Use of Geothermal Energy

Looks like southwestern Colorado is exploring the idea of geothermal heating. I haven't spent much time talking about geothermal. I'm going to have to find some links for you folks that explores geothermal technology in a little more detail.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Renewable Energy's Biggest Wish

Any politician that doesn't include tax credits for renewables in his or her energy proposal is not serious about steering this country towards a renewable energy path. They also aren't serious about weening us off of fossil fuels. I've talked about tax credits before here so you know where I stand (shorter version: take tax credits away from an established industry like oil and gas and give it to a burgeoning industry like clean tech). Without tax credits renewable energy will take a much longer time to permeate through our society via clean tech energy production, market stability, and job creation. Read yet another article here on why Congress needs to extend (for a longer period of time) the renewable energy tax credits for businesses and individuals.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Investor Interest in Algae Grows

This is good. Anything that can be used for fuel that is not a food source is heading in the right direction. I've discussed it before ad infinitum, but I will say it once more. Making fuel out of food sources to run our automobiles is unconscionable. Anyway, read the article and see who the key players are in producing algae biofuels. A little snippet from the article that speaks to why algae is becoming a popular biofuel:

"Algae has emerged as a leading candidate as a source of biofuel thanks to the ease with which it grows, the low level of feedstocks needed to produce it, and the fact that it does not use up as much land area as other sources of biofuel."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Renewable Energy Fuels Colorado Governor

Another article that speaks to the work Governor Bill Ritter has done to firmly entrench renewable energy in the economy of the state of Colorado. As we've seen with Vestas Wind Systems' addition of 2,500 jobs and the renewable energy ballot initiative passed by Colorado voters (to just name a couple) this state is demonstrating the commitment to becoming a leader in clean sources of energy. This also demonstrates that there are elected officials that are interested and passionate about making government work for the people. Thanks to Governor Ritter for looking out for Colorado's future.

Obama Ups Clean-tech Cred at Convention

Cleantech venture capitalists support Obama's energy plan in this Cnet article. If you want to know why they endorse it you can read about his plan for yourself here.

Vestas Praises Colorado's New Energy Economy

Vestas energy let the public know why they decided to invest $600 million in the state of Colorado. Here's the line that about sums it up:

"Colorado should be a model for the U.S. and the world in what can be done in the state when the governor and the congressional delegation team up."

Hats off to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar; and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall for making this possible. And it's interesting that they are all Democrats.

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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