Archive for November, 2012

Bill McKibben Jumpstarts a Movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels. We Strongly Support Him.

Posted By Lowell F. on November 30th, 2012

As you may have heard, Bill McKibben of 350.org has been traveling the country on what he calls his “Do the Math tour”. The goal, as McKibben puts it, is “to jumpstart a new movement…that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.” The means by which McKibben et al. hope to achieve their goal are simple but powerful: “cut off the [fossil fuel] industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels.” In other words, defund the fossil fuel industry before it poisons us all and completely trashes our planet.

With that in mind, there’s a website dedicated to petitioning colleges and universities to “immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.” By doing so, we all send a powerful message, voting with our wallets, that it’s not acceptable for fossil fuel companies to keep trashing our planet – the only one we’ve got – for any reason, let alone in the name of massive profits for themselves.

For more on this movement, see Bill McKibben’s latest article, in which he explains that, although “we’ll keep playing defense against bad projects like the Keystone pipeline…we can’t stop global warming one pipeline at a time–we also have to turn the fossil fuel industry into the tobacco industry and weaken their power to block any good idea that rises in DC.

For starters, as we’ve been urging here at Scaling Green for a while now, it’s long past time for the extremely profitable fossil fuel industry to get off the taxpayer-funded corporate welfare dole. It’s also long past time for the fossil fuel industry to pay the full cost of the damage it causes by polluting our air and water. If they were forced to do all that, what we’d have is a level playing field, one in which clean energy would not only be able to compete with fossil fuels, but to beat them on economics alone.

In fact, we’re already getting very close to that point, even with a playing field that’s been distinctly tilted in the fossil fuels’ favor for decades. Change that, and we revolutionize energy economics in the direction of clean and sustainable. Which is why we strongly support Bill McKibben in his efforts, and urge everyone to help him in any way you can. Thanks.

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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (11/30/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on November 30th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (11/30/12).

  1. According to CleanTechnica, “China’s wind industry is forecast to reach 150 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity by 2015 — shattering the central government’s goal of 100 GW by 2015.”
  2. The Denver Post reports, “Even though the costs of solar panels and inverters, the two key pieces of hardware, were higher in Germany than the U.S., the costs of everything else create an almost 50 percent increase in the price of a 5.1 kilowatt, residential rooftop array, according to the NREL analysis.”
  3. Forbes writes that “ARPA-E Bets $130 Million On Cutting-Edge Green Tech.”
  4. According to Mother Jones, “BP’s Dispersant Allowed Oil To Penetrate Beaches More Deeply.”
  5. PV Tech reports, “China’s CSP capacity could increase to 3GW by 2015, although more conservative estimates predict it will only grow to 1GW, according to a paper by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”
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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (11/29/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on November 29th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (11/29/12).

  1. According to the Los Angeles Times, “BP, which has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in connection with the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, was suspended from new government contracts on Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced.”
  2. The Huffington Post reports, “Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) released a petition signed by 3,500 veterans across the country, hundreds of whom have found post-military work in the wind energy industry, urging Congress to extend the wind production tax credit (PTC).”
  3. According to Climate Progress: “The American Petroleum Institute already has 2014 in its sights, and it is spending aggressively to protect the oil industry’s multi-billion-dollar tax breaks. Three weeks since election day, API has spent $3 million on TV ads, according to a ThinkProgress analysis of Kantar Media’s CMAG data.”
  4. The Washington Post reports, “By a vote of 62-37 on Wednesday, the Senate backed an amendment that would delete a provision in the defense bill prohibiting the military from spending money on alternative fuels if the cost exceeded traditional fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil.”
  5. Greentechsolar has a list of the “Top Ten U.S. PV Power Plants Under Construction in the U.S.”
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New LBL “Tracking the Sun” Report: Installed Solar Prices Continue to Fall; Soft Costs the Challenge

Posted By Lowell F. on November 28th, 2012

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories is out with its 5th annual “Tracking the Sun” report, which looks at “historical trends in the installed price (that is, the up-front cost borne by the system owner) of grid-connected PV systems in the United States.” A few findings of the report jumped out at us:

  • Installed [solar PV] prices continued their precipitous decline in 2011,” with year-over-year price reductions for installed solar PV systems in the 11%-14% range. In addition, “[p]artial data for the first six months of 2012 indicate that installed prices have continued to fall.
  • These price declines are “largely attributable to falling module prices, which fell by $2.1/W from 2008 through 2011…and have fallen further still in 2012.”
  • Non-module costs have also declined over the long-term. However, “[w]ithin the past several years…module prices have declined at a much faster pace than non-module costs, and as a result, non-module costs have grown in terms of their relative share of total system costs.”
  • “[T]he fact that non-module costs have remained largely unchanged since 2005 highlights the potential need to identify new and innovative mechanisms to foster greater efficiency and competition within the delivery infrastructure.”
  • “[F]urther price reductions will be necessary if the U.S. PV industry is to continue its expansion, given the expectation that PV incentive programs will also continue to ratchet down financial support.”
  • “Lower installed prices in Germany and other major international markets suggest that deeper near-term cost reductions in United States are, in fact, possible and may accompany increased market scale.”
  • Targeted policies aimed at specific cost barriers (for example, permitting and interconnection costs), in concert with basic and applied research and development, may…be required in order to sustain the pace of installed price reductions on a long-term basis.”
Posted in solar energy
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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (11/28/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on November 28th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (11/28/12).

  1. According to RL Miller, writing at Climate Progress, Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times is quite possibly the most anti-solar reporter in the mainstream media. In her latest piece, “Solar power plants burden the counties that host them, she discovers that sprawling rural counties that vote Republican would like more money from the federal government, please, and it’s all the fault of Big Solar.”
  2. CleanTechnica provides “5 Good Reasons to Support Solar Power,” from the perspective of U.S. special forces in Afghanistan.
  3. Greentechsolar asks, “Is it wiser to lower your PV system’s capex and O&M, or by adding tracking, to improve its LCOE?”
  4. According to DeSmogBlog, “A BRITISH MP revealed to be holding $400,000 worth of share options in an oil firm while sitting on an influential parliamentary climate change committee is also being paid $300 an hour to advise an Indian company building a coal fired power station.”
  5. Renewable Energy World reports on an executive roundtable in which “Five leaders in renewable energy discuss the growth clean energy in North America has experienced over the last few years and the potential for uninterrupted progress.”
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