Archive for September, 2012

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/28/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on September 28th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/28/12).

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports, “Gov. Jerry Brown signed 19 bills Thursday aimed at making it easier to provide renewable energy and conserve power in California.”
  2. At Renewable Energy World, Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza has “three core PR messages that have stayed with me almost three weeks later from SPI’s keynote speakers, Julia Hamm, Rhone Resch, and former President Bill Clinton.”
  3. According to CleanTechnica, “Georgia Power, a subsidiary of one of America’s largest generators of electricity, announced Wednesday that it has filed a new solar initiative — the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (“GPASI”) — with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), which would see Georgia Power acquire 210 megawatts (MW) of additional solar capacity through long-term contracts over a three year period.”
  4. DeSmogBlog reports, “Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project published a scathing 124-page report this week, ‘Breaking All the Rules: the Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement.’”
  5. According to Renewable Energy World , “Wind technology is set for a giant leap with Alstom’s 1.43 GW French offshore contract, involving its massive Haliade 150 turbines.”
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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/27/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on September 27th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/27/12).

  1. According to CleanTechnica, “A new poll suggests nearly 9 out of 10 American adults think solar energy should play a bigger role in the energy supply mix.”
  2. Renewable Energy World asks, “What is the Most Difficult Issue Facing the Solar Industry?”
  3. DelmarvaNow has an AP report that “Virginia is seeking to survey a vast expanse of the ocean floor and document wind, waves and wildlife offshore to smooth the way for development of wind turbines by energy companies.”
  4. At the Huffington Post, Bill McKibben writes: “TransCanada Turns Sadistic in Texas: Keystone XL Protestors Tased and Pepper Sprayed.”
  5. Business Green reports, “New government figures reveal UK renewable electricity capacity has soared 42 per cent over the past year to 14.2GW.”
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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/26/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on September 26th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/26/12).

  1. The Harvard Business Review writes: “Given this negative drumbeat [about clean energy in the media], it’s not surprising that the business world tends to perceive renewable energy as an altruistic, rather than fiscally prudent, investment. But this view is dead wrong. The renewable energy industry is growing very fast… and not because it’s a philanthropic effort.”
  2. CleanTechnica reports: “The first power grid connection between Ireland and the United Kingdom has been constructed. It can transmit 500 MW of electricity across the Irish Sea and it cost €600 million.”
  3. According to Greentechsolar, “As of the end of 2011, the European Union accounted for 70 percent of the cumulative solar photovoltaic capacity installed worldwide — 51 gigawatts out of 70 gigawatts — according to a new EU report [PDF].”
  4. The Financial Times reports that in the UK, “Shale will not be a ‘cheap’ source of gas and there is unlikely to be a repeat of the US experience,” says the report by the Energy Contract Company, a consultancy.”
  5. According to Triple Pundit: “Last week, diverse a group of 19 companies sent a letter to Congress asking them to extend the production tax credit (PTC)  for wind power. Among the companies were a combination of green and traditional businesses including: Yahoo, Ben & Jerry’s, Johnson & Johnson, Seventh Generation, Sprint and Starbucks. The 19 companies are part of the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a project undertaken by Ceres.”
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Stephen Lacey: Without Government Help, the Shale Gas Boom Would Not Have Happened

Posted By Lowell F. on September 25th, 2012

In August, we wrote about our interview with New York Times senior energy reporter Matt Wald. In that interview, Wald discussed (among other things) the economics of cheap natural gas supplies, reminding us of an extremely important – but frequently forgotten – fact. Namely, Wald explained how the U.S. government had made “early, risky investments” which were used “to slash costs dramatically” for natural gas extraction and production.

Our own research, including emails, phone calls, and even FOIA requests to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fossil Energy office, reinforced and confirmed what Wald was saying. What we found was that DOE  - as they themselves boast – “played a historic role in helping to advance the technology that is making shale gas production possible.”  In other words, the fulcrum practice enabling the cheap gas revolution was not a result of the private sector acting on its own, but in fact was largely underwritten by taxpayers.

Over at Climate Progress, Stephen Lacey is out with an article that elaborates further on this important subject:

If we look at the history of how horizontal drilling techniques were commercialized, we find a strong base of government support through R&D, mapping techniques, cost-sharing programs, and billions of dollars in tax credits. The Breakthrough Institute wrote a report on this support last year showing how decades of federal support helped businesses pioneer and commercialize new, risky drilling techniques.

The Associated Press published a follow up story yesterday on the history of government support in shale gas. It illustrates the importance of federal assistance for new energy technologies. Along with establishing a tax credit for drillers in 1980 that amounted to $10 billion through 2002, the Department of Energy provided crucial technical assistance during times of failure.

The point here is not that government support for the natural gas industry is unique in any way, but that, as Stephen Lacey explains, “all energy technologies — nuclear, coal, oil, and gas — have received generous federal support in order to bring them to scale.” In fact, fossil fuels have received many times the taxpayer-funded support levels – subsidies, R&D, etc. – that clean energy has received over the years. Which is why calls to eliminate supposedly “wasteful” subsidies on clean energy, without calling for removal of  the (much larger) subsidies and other assistance to the fossil fuel industry, are so hypocritical and absurd.

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New Survey Finds Broad Support for Clean Energy Among Likely Voters

Posted By Lowell F. on September 25th, 2012

We’re long-standing fans of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, as they are highly knowledgeable of the clean economy, and frequently have interesting, thought-provoking things to say about it. They also conduct research surveys of public attitudes towards climate change and the clean economy, including their latest survey, entitled “Climate Change in the American Mind: The Potential Impact of Global Warming on the 2012 Presidential Election.”  Here are a few highlights.

  • There is overwhelming support among “Likely Obama voters” (85% support), “Undecided” voters (83% support), and “Likely Romney voters” (73% support) that “in the future, [the] US should use more renewable energy sources.”
  • There is majority support among “Likely Obama voters’ (65% support) and “Undecided” voters (55% support) that, “in the future, [the] US should use less fossil fuels.”
  • On global warming, 80% of “undecided likely voters” say it’s happening, compared to just 3% who say it isn’t.  Also, 65% of “Undecideds” believe that “if global warming is happening, it is mostly human caused.”
  • Finally, “Undecideds as well as likely Obama voters say that President Obama (64% and 61% respectively) and Congress (72% and 78%) should be “doing more” about global warming.

An important takeaway from this survey is that Americans, no matter what they’re political persuasions happen to be, overwhelmingly want to use more clean energy moving forward.  That’s the case whether they are favorably inclined towards fossil fuels, and also whether or not they find global warming to be a pressing concern.  The point is, Americans like clean energy and want more of it. The question, as always, is whether politicians are listening to the people, or whether they’re more swayed by money and pressure from dirty energy industries?

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