Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Commercial Airlines May Get 1% of Fuel From Biofuels By 2015, Boeing Says

I am glad to see airlines stepping up to the plate and diversifying their fuel types with renewable plant-based biofuels. This proactive behavior probably has something to do with the fuel price volatility that almost crippled the airlines in 2008. Although 1% biofuels is low, it is a good start to get the biofuel ball rolling. From the article above, it seems like the biofuel manufacturers have decade long contracts to supply some of the airlines. This goes a long way to creating stability in the biofuel markets.

Also, I don't know about you but I always forget that according to the United Nations, the airline industry accounts for at least 3% of the global-warming gas pollution. As more of the lower carbon-emitting biofuels get into the airline supply-chain will see a decrease in emissions, less impact from traditional fossil fuel price volatility, and a more sustainable airline industry. This is good for everybody!

Dems Press Reid to Put Renewable Power Standard in Energy Bill

We are going to need a lot more than just the Dems to bring about a federal renewable energy standard (RES). I wonder why the Republicans don't want a federal RES? A federal RES would provide stabilization to the clean energy market and would reduce our consumption of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Many states already have a standard but they vary in scope and time to complete. And for the southeastern states that don't have many renewable resources the federal RES standard could be adjusted for them using scientific renewable energy data (see NREL).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Efficiency Bright Spot in Otherwise Deflated Clean Energy Investment Market

Here's a piece from Colorado Energy News that explains a bit about why renewables aren't growing as fast as some (including this author) would like. There are a myriad of factors but one that sticks out in particular is the, "lack of policy guidance from the feds," as well as the pricing of carbon. A comprehensive, national renewable energy standard (RES) or a price on carbon levels the playing field so that Americans can do what they do best - make money. Without the national policy or a price on carbon the investment risk on renewable energy is just too high for investors.

The one bright spot in all of this is the focus on energy efficiency by the feds and the market. Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit - it has the quickest ROI of any of the renewable energy technologies and is the smart thing to do to your structure before you purchase any solar modules or wind turbines. Why would you want to waste any of the energy (whether it be fossil fuel or renewable) that you consume? So, get your place audited by an certified energy auditor then weatherize it, while lobbying your elected Congress person for a RES or carbon price so we can create a new energy economy today rather than tomorrow.

U.S. Army Dips a Toe in Wind Powered Waters

Go Army strong in the clean energy direction! Looks like the U.S. Army is going to pull the trigger on a wind power project in Utah. They've always been hesitant before this moment because they thought the turbines would interfere with radar. Now it looks like the turbines have the green light. Excellent. More diversity on the clean energy production portfolio is a good thing.

Vestas Wind Turbine Maker Plans To Hire Hundreds More In Colorado Over the Next Year

Almost 1000 cleantech jobs in Colorado! Wow. Looks like Vestas is ramping up again. And this is the type of company that thinks things through as opposed to being impetuous. Instead of completely closing down a plant permanently or shipping it offshore, they temporarily closed one here in Colorado (through work furloughs) last year while they retooled and waited for the orders to pickup. How nice is it that almost a thousand more people will be employed soon?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Solar-powered Light Bulb Is One Denver Inventor's Brilliant Idea

Nice article from the Denver Post on the Colorado inventor of a cheap, solar-powered light bulb called, Nokero. According to the article, a quarter of the world still burns fuel to produce light. Imagine replacing all that fuel with a cheap, rechargeable photovoltaic light bulb. People in those countries will begin to educate themselves at night without the harmful fumes from burning the fuel. They also won't have to keep spending a portion of the family budget on this fuel since the light bulbs last for about five years and the sun is free. Now that's cool.

No, Electric Vehicles Won't Bring Down the U.S. Power Grid

This is good news - plugin electric vehicles won't cause a tremendous drain on the U.S. power grid. A study (by two groups with differing viewpoints towards energy) was completed and they determined that one electric vehicle is the equivalent of four plasma televisions sets. Our lust for plasma flat screen televisions hasn't brought down the electric utility grid yet. Now that this is settled, we just need to figure out how to charge these cars (and run our plasma tv's) with more renewable energy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Obama Awards $2 Billion For Solar Power, Hails New Jobs

Hopefully this is just the beginning of more investment into clean energy. With our economy sputtering and a decimated manufacturing base I think it makes good sense to invest in creating more manufacturing jobs here in the states. I often am disappointed when entrepreneurs come up with a great product and then choose to have it manufactured overseas with slave labor because it is cheaper. But can't economies of scale happen right here on U.S. soil? Well, maybe not as cheaply. Our penchant for cheap stuff is going to be our downfall. So I say why not invest in a thin-film solar manufacturing plant here in Colorado and Indiana with public funds? Why not invest in a concentrated solar utility plant in Arizona with public funds? I think it is good government and it will help reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

Xcel Tests Hybrid Solar-coal Project in Colorado

This is cool. The premise is similar to using solar thermal on the roof of your home, i.e. using the sun to heat water so that you don't have to use as much natural gas (or electricity) to heat the water in your hot water heater. But the method that Abengoa Solar uses is for a utility scale project. Instead of using coal all the time the utility will use solar power to heat the liquid that turns into steam and then turns the electric turbines. Why not take advantage of some free peak sun hours? Xcel is testing this at a coal-fired power plant outside of Grand Junction, Colorado. I look forward to the results.

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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