Saturday, August 28, 2010

Denver Green School Debuts K-8 Program

I wish there were school's around like this when I was a kid. Learning math and science through the "lens of sustainability" is a great idea. The founders of the Denver Green School says that it has, "a vision of being a beacon for Denver Public Schools (DPS) and really the country on what a school dedicated to sustainability can mean." Kudos to the Denver Green School and their forward-thinking mentality.

Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic, and Sustainability

Great article written by Paul Valenta on the importance of educating our children (and ourselves) on the benefits of energy efficiency. As I've said before, altering our residential and commercial buildings to use energy more efficiently not only makes our air, water and land cleaner it saves us cold hard cash. Here's a good quote from the article that sums it up:

"Children should understand that we use fossil fuels for almost everything and that they account for roughly 80 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. One of the cheapest ways to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce our use of fossil fuels is through energy efficiency – using less energy to provide the same service or using the same energy to provide more services and consuming renewable energy."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ikea Denver Leads the Way for Big Box Geothermal Installations

Rock and roll. They are building a new IKEA just south of Denver and are incorporating geothermal energy! More "big box" retailers need to follow IKEA's lead and utilize renewable energy. I don't know what the carbon footprint of these warehouses are, but it isn't tiny. Kudos to IKEA for lessening their impact on the planet (and saving some money).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Xcel Lays Out Plan for Natural Gas Conversion of Metro Denver Power Plants

Excellent. We are just at the beginning of a positive change to the Front Range's air quality. Xcel Energy (largest power utility in Colorado) is laying out the plan to retrofit existing coal-fired power plants to natural gas-fired plants. If you remember way back in April, Governor Ritter Signed the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act into law. This law required Xcel to begin the retrofit of old coal-fired plants to natural gas. As I said back then, natural gas-fired plants will make it easier to bring online renewable power sources such as wind and solar, as well emitting less pollutants and CO2 than coal. This is just another demonstration of the forward-thinking policies of Colorado businesses and government. I don't know about you, but I look forward to breathing easier on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Xcel in Concentrated Solar Deal with Cogentrix Energy

There is an interesting article in Colorado Energy News about Xcel Energy signing a 20-year contract with Cogentrix Energy to purchase 30 megawatts of power from a concentrated solar photovoltaic plant in Colorado's San Luis Valley next year. The plant hasn't been built yet, but construction is slated to begin Q1 2011. I think that this contract probably seals the deal so to speak, and that this concentrated solar PV plant will be constructed since they now have a guaranteed buyer of power. This will also help Xcel meet a portion of the renewable energy portfolio requirements for the state of Colorado (30% renewable energy by 2020).

Although the distributed generation (DG) proponents in the San Luis Valley may not be happy with this development, I think that until someone is willing to put up the capital to place solar modules on 6,500 homes (the amount of homes this plant is estimated to provide electricity to) we will have to continue to use the centralized utility model. The price of solar PV modules is going down each day, but it is difficult for homeowners right now to come up with the will or the money to generate their own renewable power. If I could flip a switch, I would utilize a DG model, not the inefficient and outdated centralized utility model. However, right now the money to be made is in large-scale power plants (as understood by Cogentrix Energy, a subsidiary of the very large financial institution Goldman-Sachs). In other words the money making model is in a centralized power distribution model, not in solar PV modules on residential and commercial buildings.

Of course as always, I'm open to you folks challenging this position of mine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

U.S. Losing Edge in the Clean Energy Sector

I keep seeing more and more of these types of headlines and I can't say that I am surprised. We've been losing manufacturing jobs in other sectors as well for the last 20-30 years. But another troubling aspect that the article brings up is that we are also losing "research and development activities" to other countries. When the likes of IBM and Intel are setting up R&D shops in China you know that the U.S. is going to lose even more of their competitive edge. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the U.S. is going to have to rapidly develop some smart and progressive manufacturing, economic, and educational policies and investment strategies if we want to keep up with other countries of the world. Are we up to the task?

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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