Friday, October 29, 2010

NY Times Editorial: Remember Renewable Energy?

I appreciate this editorial for reminding us that Europe and China are cleaning our clock when it comes to investment in and support of the renewable energy (RE) industry. However, at the same time I think that this editorial could have a few more ideas peppered into it. I have called for the same subsidies for RE that the oil and gas industry receive to level the playing field, but I also think that there are other ways (rather than financial) for the government to give a boost to a nascent market. An example would include a federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that would force states to generate a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources by a certain time period. Currently, RE businesses are experiencing feast or famine depending which state we are talking about. Colorado has a great RPS (30% energy from RE sources by 2020), but Wyoming has no standard at all. An RPS from the feds would provide stability to the RE market. Check out this cool interactive map of state by state RE standards.

The last part of the editorial deals with transmission of all of this power and the investment needed to upgrade the electricity grid. But the NY Times said nothing about a different type of transmission called distributed generation (DG). The DG folks believe that instead of building large RE power plants we could put wind and solar PV/thermal on our homes and businesses and in our neighborhoods. Electricity generation is distributed from the many instead of coming from one source like the power plant. We still need newer transmission lines to replace some parts of our aging grid, but using a DG model would go along way to reducing the cost of renewable energy transmission and creating local jobs in our communities.

I'm glad that the NY Times is calling attention to renewable energy. It has fallen off the mainstream media's radar lately in my opinion. And it would be nice to have an editorial from a quality newspaper that illuminates more than the old ideas about how to boost the renewable energy industry. What are your thoughts dear reader?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Energy-Efficient Strawbale Home in the Colorado Rockies

Really cool article written by an architect who designed his energy efficient strawbale home. By using heating from the sun during the winter and ventilation methods for cooling in the summer, their house only has a 3-5 degree temperature swing inside year round. 3-5 degrees! In comparison, my 1950s house has about a 20 degree variation year round (but I am working to reduce this as finances permit).

This goes to show that with a little bit of research and effort we can design our homes (and even retrofit our existing homes) to become more energy efficient. And I bet the big bad wolf can't come remotely close to blowing his house down.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interior's Salazar, Vestas Dedicate World's Largest Wind-tower Plant

Good things keep happening to Colorado. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar helped dedicate Vestas Wind System's new wind turbine plant in Pueblo, Colorado. Vestas says that this new plant is the world's largest. This is great news for the Pueblo community and goes a long way towards establishing Colorado as the renewable energy thought leader.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Colorado's Ascent Solar Signs French Distribution Deal

Nice work Ascent Solar! Looks like they inked a deal to provide a French solar company with the thin-film solar panels they produce right here in Colorado. Now if we could only give Ascent Solar some more business here in the U.S.

Gov. Ritter Marks 600th Home Weatherized in Denver, Jefferson County

I'm going to miss Governor Ritter's devotion to energy efficiency and renewable energy in the state of Colorado. I hope that the next governor picks up where he left off and expands our renewable energy/energy efficiency footprint even further. The good governor just celebrated the 600th home in Colorado to be weatherized by the Veterans Green Jobs group. The more homes that become energy efficient, the more money we save, and the less electricity we use from coal-fired power plants. Have you scheduled an energy audit for your home or business from a RESNET certified auditor?

Colorado Man Riding Renewable Energy-powered Tricycle 2,500 Miles to Raise Awareness

This guy is my freakin' hero! Tom Weis is riding his solar-powered (and human-powered) tricycle to D.C. to promote awareness of renewable energy to lawmakers. Although Mr. Weis' desire to have a 100% renewable energy grid by 2020 is "ambitious," I think that if we can spend a trillion or so dollars on war we can certainly spend a few billion on becoming energy independent and a moral leader once again in the eyes of the world. Am I wrong?

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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