Archive for October, 2012

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (10/31/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on October 31st, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (10/31/12).

  1. DeSmogBlog reports, “Supertankers, Earthquakes, and Tsunamis, Oh My: Enbridge Has No Spill-Response Plan for Northern Gateway Pipeline.”
  2. Renewable Energy World writes about “Making Ground Source Geothermal a Win-Win Resource for Utilities and Customers.”
  3. AZCleantech reports, “Last week, a group of Stanford energy and climate experts said that instituting energy policies that wean us off fossil fuels and drive innovation in renewable energy is the best and most environmentally responsible way to meet this demand.”
  4. According to “Arizona already has one of the most robust solar power markets in the country – according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the state has had the third biggest growth rate in installed photovoltaic capacity since the end of 2009, installing 397 megawatts of PV power during that period. The latest projects in Arizona show that the state is likely to continue on as one of the very best areas in the country for solar energy.”
  5. CleanTechnica reports: “South Africa, one of the most coal-dependent countries in the world, has taken another major step toward a clean energy future. The country’s energy minister recently announced approval of $5.4 billion for 28 wind, solar, and geothermal projects that will add 1.4 gigawatts (GW) of new renewables capacity to the grid.”
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Growing the Options: Showing the Clean Economy is Good Politics and Policies

Posted By mikec on October 30th, 2012

There are a lot of venues where clean economy players network and do business. Michael Liebreich’s excellent Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit and Pennwell’s Solar Power-Gen come immediately to mind. But there’s nothing for cleantech like the National Rifle Association (NRA) or NAACP conventions – a place where political candidates and office holders talk to us because it’s a must-attend event.

The fact is that the political aggression aimed at clean economy businesses demands that we grow our leadership options.

We piloted an effort to change that recently with a first-of-its-kind roundtable featuring one U.S. Senate candidate (former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine) and some of the sharpest clean economy minds in the mid-Atlantic region. I don’t know that I’m in the “sharpest clean economy minds” category, so it’s good that I got to play host. Still, something novel happened during this meeting: Leaders from seven clean economy sectors got together with a political candidate who actually wanted to hear from them!

There was a wide spectrum of companies participating, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, advanced battery technology, offshore wind power transmission, financing, concentrating solar power, and clean energy project development. There were Fortune 500 companies with global reach (AES, Johnson Controls) all the way down to the four-person Secure Futures of Staunton, Virginia.

Participants brought more than 100 years of combined clean economy experience to the room, and the Governor came away clearly impressed by the energy and ideas they offered. I think we successfully made the case that pro-clean economy policies are good politics and policy, despite all the trash talking about the clean economy.

That’s because large majorities of Americans want clean economy sectors to succeed. They know we enhance our country’s economy, environment and national security. As one participant noted, if we get people in public life to understand that we’re “not a sound byte, we’re a successful industry,” then it becomes a lot harder to talk down American jobs. And, working with policymakers and candidates who are willing to listen will grow the leadership options we have.

The wind industry has done a good job at this, leveraging their job base to get a growing, bipartisan group of elected officials to stand with them on the Production Tax Credit renewal.  That’s a positive feedback loop – but it has to be fed with more events like this one, and on a larger scale.

*Participants in the forum included: Gov. Tim Kaine (now running for U.S. Senate); Ned Hall, The AES Corporation; Tony Clifford, Standard Solar, Inc.; Mark Wagner, Institute for Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls; Markian Melnyk, Atlantic Wind Connection; Ray Henger, Own Energy; Alec Hoppes, AREVA Solar; Mike Healy, Skyline Innovations; Ken Locklin, Impax Asset Management US; Anthony Smith, Secure Futures

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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (10/30/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on October 30th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (10/30/12).

  1. The Guardian reports, “Renewable energy capacity will overtake nuclear power in the UK by 2018, if current rates of growth continue, and will provide enough power for one in 10 British homes by 2015, according to new research.”
  2. Also from The Guardian: “Oil giant BP raced ahead of analysts’ expectations with a third-quarter profit of $5.2bn (£3.2bn) and is raising its dividend for shareholders.”
  3. Climate Progress reports, “Former President Clinton — a man well-versed in the benefits of clean energy — has officially put thrown his support behind the 25 percent renewable electricity target [in Michigan].”
  4. According to the Australian Broadcasting Company, “The study of international evidence showed increased rates of cancer, heart, lung and kidney disease, as well as birth defects, in communities near coal mines and coal-fired power stations.”
  5. The Financial Times reports, “Approvals for onshore wind farms have surged to record levels, the industry reported on Tuesday, despite opposition from critics who claim they are inefficient and blight some of the nation’s best-loved views.”
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Conservation Services Group CEO Demolishes David Brooks’ Clean Energy Nonsense

Posted By Lowell F. on October 29th, 2012

There are many ways one could demolish New York Times columnist David Brooks’ brain-dead op-ed on clean energy, it’s so ridiculous. One way is this masterful demolition by Conservation Services Group CEO Simon Cowell. Here’s an excerpt, focused on Brooks’ absurd contention that renewable energy is “not a jobs program.”  As Cowell puts it, this “could not be further from the truth.”

As of 2010, the clean energy industry accounts for more than 2.7 million jobs and outperformed fossil fuel jobs by a factor of two to one, according to The Brookings Institution. (Of note, jobs in clean energy also happen to pay well. By contrast, 40 percent of fossil fuel industry workers get the minimum wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.) It was just announced that all new electric energy generation in September was attributed to solar and wind. The latest “Energy Infrastructure Update,” also states that renewable energy accounted for 43.8 percent of new energy generated in 2011. This growth in wind, solar and other alternatives will surely support thousands of jobs now and in the future. In the energy efficiency industry, an often overlooked portion of the clean energy economy, there are five times the number of jobs more than in the coal or oil industries. These jobs are expected to increase four-fold in the next 10 years.

In short, clean energy isn’t just a “jobs program,” it’s a jobs machine.  How anyone, let alone a respected columnist at the New York Times, could be unaware of that is hard to comprehend.

P.S. Great job as well by Stephen Cowell explaining the myriad of ways our energy industry hasn’t been a “free market,” but instead how government support of various kinds has been absolutely integral to the development of some of the most prominent fossil fuel technologies (e.g., natural gas “fracking”) and artificial competitive advantages.

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Everyone Needs to Read Michael Grunwald’s “(Almost) Everyone Loves Solar”

Posted By Lowell F. on October 29th, 2012

Everyone in the solar industry, as well as everyone who supports solar power, should read the superb, recent piece by Michael Grunwald of Time Magazine — “(Almost) Everyone Loves Solar.”  Here are the key points:

  • Almost everyone in America, across the political spectrum, supports solar power. The backing for solar in this country is so broad, in fact, that effectively, “[i]n America, solar is motherhood and apple pie.”
  • In addition to being highly popular, “solar also has become the U.S.’s fastest-growing industry, expanding more than tenfold in four years and adding more than 100,000 jobs,” while “Prices have plunged nearly 50% since [President] Obama took office.”
  • Unfortunately, “many Beltway Republicans who had embraced green energy and green jobs turned against them after they became associated with the Obama agenda.”
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association is “bend[ing] over backward to emphasize areas of agreement” with Republicans, even though Mitt Romney has falsely “called solar power ‘imaginary’ while rhapsodizing about the coming petroleum boom and raking in petroleum cash,” and even though “Obama is already being nice to them.”
  • In response to this conciliatory strategy, “Team Dirty Energy” is certainly not going to “play nice.”
  • The bottom line is that “solar and other green technologies need more than a few bones thrown their way. They need public policy that levels a playing field traditionally slanted toward fossil-fuel incumbents.”

So true.

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