Archive for May, 2012

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (5/29/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on May 29th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (5/29/12)

  1. EnergyBoom reports: “Methane gas has bubbled up at three residential water wells and two streams in Bradford Country, Pennsylvania… The affected area is around a half a mile from a Chesapeake Energy hydraulic fracturing drilling pad. “
  2. According to Inside Climate News, “German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour—equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity—through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.”
  3. Renewable Energy World reports on “engineered geothermal systems,” which can be built just about anywhere, as it doesn’t “require dramatic, bubbling geology full of volcanoes, fault lines, lava and near-surface heat,” but instead “makes use of underground rock’s natural tendency to be hot enough — typically somewhere between 120 degrees C and 200 degrees C — to drive a turbine.”
  4. According to The Guardian, “Using shale gas instead of coal does nothing to help the climate, one of the biggest investors in gas has said, because shale gas companies are failing to use simple technology to fix leaks of a potent greenhouse gas.”
  5. CleanTechnica reports, “The winds of Lake Michigan — and the rest of the Great Lakes — are an untapped reservoir of renewable energy, according to a project which recently monitored the wind over the Lakes at the height of commercial turbines.
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NY Times: Renewable Energy Faring Well in States, Not So Well in Congress

Posted By Lowell F. on May 28th, 2012

The Sunday New York Times has an excellent editorial which we encourage everyone to read. The main points are as follows:

  • “Renewable energy is faring well across the country, thanks partly to aggressive state governments and timely — but now imperiled — subsidies.”
  • “Clean energy sources would do even better if the Republicans would end their hostility to any form of energy other than fossil fuels”
  • Much of the progress on renewable energy at the state level has been bipartisan.
  • “The Defense Department, historically an incubator of energy technologies, has made efforts to ‘green’ the military, allocating nearly $1.4 billion this fiscal year for energy efficiency, solar and wind power on military bases and development of advanced biofuels.”
  • Unfortunately, there’s “bad news, mostly emanating from Congress,” specifically that “a range of important subsidies expire this year and next, federal support for renewables will plummet from $44 billion in 2009 to $11 billion in 2014.”
  • The opposition to clean energy appears to stem from two factors: 1) “an unwillingness to do anything that could challenge the dominance of fossil fuels”; and 2) “budgetary concerns.”

In the end, the bottom line is that there has been, and continues to be, a massive bias by Congress towards fossil fuels, and against clean energy. For instance, between 2002 and 2008, “71 percent of federal subsidies went to oil, natural gas and coal, while only 12 percent went to renewables.” Meanwhile, solar jobs are growing at a rapid rate in the United States, and renewables in general were the fastest-growing U.S. industry between 2007 and 2011, and as we also noted recently, “green goods and services” actually employ several times more people (3.1 million) than the oil and gas industry (743,825-1.12 million jobs), according to U.S. government statistics. That Congress could consider doing anything to mess up this great American success story is mind boggling, and utterly unacceptable.

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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (5/25/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on May 25th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (5/25/12)

  1. Daniel Weiss of ClimateProgress argues that the “’War on Coal’ is a Myth,” even as there’s “a multi-million dollar disinformation campaign funded by Big Coal polluters to protect their profits and distract Americans from the deadly effects of air pollution on public health.”
  2. According to the Miami Herald: “Alaska has massive hydro, wind, geothermal and other renewable resources, but the state’s rural villages are chained to diesel and suffer oppressive energy costs they say threaten their existence. Lawmakers, energy experts and Native leaders said Thursday it’s a dire problem with elusive solutions.”
  3. The Boston Herald reports, “From a wind-power factory in this battleground state, President Barack Obama urged Congress to extend tax credits he said would save jobs in the field of clean-energy production.”
  4. According to Greentechgrid, “Following speeches in which they noted the many economic benefits to California from renewables, the [California Public Utilities] commissioners voted unanimously against the [Investor Owned Utilities] and in favor of a definition of the [net energy metering] cap that will allow for much more distributed generation (DG) going forward.”
  5. Steve Leone of Renewable Energy World reports: “In a new report titled “Searching for Game Changers in Photovoltaics Materials Innovations,” Lux Research details the emerging [solar power] technologies that will thrive and those that will eventually sputter out.”
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New Report Finds U.S. Clean Energy Leadership in Serious Jeopardy Due to Congress’ Failure

Posted By Lowell F. on May 24th, 2012

A new report,  Fire Sale: The End of American Ownership of Clean Energy, warns that Congress’ failure to invest adequately in US clean energy,  ”at a time when clean energy is growing like gangbusters around the world,”  is a huge mistake. Among other problems, this lack of investment is “starving American companies of capital and the ability to complete domestic projects.” As a result, the United States is now “losing this race” to countries like China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, even oil-rich Saudi Arabia — all of which are investing heavily in clean energy. A few more points made in the study include:

  • As a result of this short-sightedness and foolishness, “we’re on the brink of losing the market, not just globally, but domestically as well.”
  • This, in turn, “will cost U.S. businesses in terms of lost revenues and lost intellectual property, and cost the nation in terms of growth and economic leadership.”
  • “In a 21st century that may well be defined by clean energy, this loss would be disastrous.”
  • The U.S. political consensus in support of clean energy collapsed in 2011, and this is now “even infecting federal support for leading-edge research and development,” along with federal clean tech investment, which is expected to fall 75% from 2009 to 2014.
  • Historically, “the federal role has had a decidedly uneven tilt toward fossil fuel and other established technologies” – $447 billion in subsidies to oil and gas between 1918 and 2009 — compared to the relatively tiny investments made in clean energy.

We couldn’t agree more with this report’s findings, and we certainly hope that corrective action is taken immediately.

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New Poll: Americans Strongly Support Clean Energy, Want Fracking Regulations Increased

Posted By Lowell F. on May 24th, 2012

According to a new poll by National Journal, “[a] large majority of Americans support a pair of congressional efforts to create an economy based on cleaner-energy sources.”

  • “Almost two-thirds—64 percent—of those surveyed said that Congress should extend federal tax credits that encourage production of alternative-energy sources, such as wind, that are due to expire at year’s end.”
  • “64 percent of respondents said they support enactment of a clean-energy standard, which would require the country to produce a higher percentage of its electricity from cleaner sources of energy.”
  • 68 percent of Americans say that oil and natural gas “fracking” should either be banned (15%) or be more tightly regulated (53%), with just 25% saying that regulations on “fracking” should be reduced.
  • “Respondents in the East, which includes Appalachian states such as Pennsylvania that are ground zero for the shale-gas boom, are the least supportive of fracking.”

In sum, Americans love clean energy and want it supported.  In contrast, Americans are concerned about the potential environmental impacts of natural gas and oil “fracking,” and want regulations increased on that industry. Intriguingly, those who are closest to “fracking” operations are the most concerned. The question is, are politicians listening to the American people on either of these subjects?

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