Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Few places are as well suited for large-scale solar projects as California’s Mojave Desert. But as mainstream environmental organizations push plans to turn the desert into a center for renewable energy, some green groups — concerned about spoiling this iconic Western landscape — are standing up to oppose them.
Twenty years ago when an epic clash over the logging of ancient redwood forests roiled California, the battle lines were clear-cut.
On one side stood a Texas corporate raider who acquired the Pacific Lumber Co. in a junk bond-fueled takeover and began felling vast swaths of primeval redwoods to pay off the debt. On the other side was Earth First! and other grass-roots greens who staged a campaign of civil disobedience to disrupt the logging. And while mainstream environmental groups may have looked askance at such tactics, they supported the cause in the courts, suing to stop the clear-cutting of ancient trees.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
This is the second book review of Stewart Brand’s new book “Whole Earth Discipline” posted on CleanTechies. Read the first review by Todd Woody here.
When James Lovelock, Edward O. Wilson and Ian McEwan jostle to praise a book I assume it will be worth attention. Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto doesn’t disappoint. The title echoes the Whole Earth Catalogue which he founded over forty years ago as an ambitious reference aid for skills, tools and products useful to a self-sustainable lifestyle.
Times have changed and Brand has changed with them. Climate change has become a clear and present danger. He has become more of a pragmatist, though no less of an environmentalist. His pragmatism leads him to regard with favour three factors which put him to some extent at odds with others in the environmental movement. The three are urbanisation, nuclear power and genetic engineering, and part of the purpose of the book is to urge the Green-inclined to consider how the three may now be considered significant contributions to facing up to climate change.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
Tom Friedman spent most of 2009 beating the China-is-winning-the-green-race-drum, and he has started 2010 with the same focus.
In Sunday’s New York Times, the news side of the house joined their editorial page colleague, writing in a front page story that Chinese “efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”
To his credit, Friedman’s push has been all about policy. He wants the United States to go all-in in a space-race-like push to match Chinese innovation in energy technology (“E.T.,” as he has glossed it). But, what has eluded his attention – and is absent again in Sunday’s news piece – is the recognition that in order to match Chinese innovation, the policy changes that would be required in the U.S. electricity markets would necessarily have to go far beyond decoupling, one of Friedman’s personal causes.
Saturday, January 30th, 2010
Twenty-six projects have won funding of up to $200,000 each to develop their concepts in the 2009 IDEAS Energy Challenge. Jointly sponsored by Global Village Energy Partnership International, GTZ, IDB and the Government of Korea, the competition supports project ideas which demonstrate an innovative response to tackling the energy challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean today.
GVEP International highlights three cases where the scheme is expected to facilitate considerable growth in the renewable energy framework of impoverished regions of Central America.
Amid the valleys, mountains and volcanoes of the highlands of southern Guatemala lies one of the country’s largest lakes, Lake Amatitlan. Located just 16 kilometers south of Guatemala City, the unique landscape surrounding the lake means it is used by many people as a recreation area.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
President Obama called on Congress to pass climate and energy legislation that would include the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants, more offshore oil drilling along the U.S. coast, and increased funding for developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.
But the president made no mention in his State of the Union speech of controversial legislation to impose a price and a cap on carbon emissions. By backing away from cap-and-trade legislation that already has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, Obama signaled his willingness to work with Republicans to pass a scaled-back version of climate and energy legislation this year.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
With so much volatility in the price of oil over the last decade, who can blame the airline industry for “going big” these past couple months and placing bets on emerging renewable jet fuel companies?
The list of deals is long: AltAir signing an MOU with 14 airlines to supply camelina-based fuel, BioJet and Great Plains working together to develop their own green fuel derived from camelina, Kingfisher Airlines working with three companies on R&D for renewable jet fuel, and Qatar Airways leading a consortium to investigate potential biofuels, just to name a few.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
TriplePundit recently held a poll inviting readers to vote for the Top 10 Most “Sustainable” CEOs. The blog’s founder and publisher Nick Aster explains the results:
Before we get too excited about the ranking, I want to emphasize that there was nothing scientific about this process and its real purpose was as much to provoke conversation as it was to give recognition to some of our most enlightened business leaders.
It was also about challenging readers and leaders alike to ask themselves what the definition of “sustainable leadership” really is. In some cases these leaders have helped create products and services with positive environmental or social impact, in others they have helped build a corporate culture that rewards and nourishes employees and stakeholders in new ways. Some are well known, others more humble. As you think about the “winners” keep in mind the very loose and changing definition of the word “sustainable” and leave some comments as to what it means to you.
Without further ado, the folks with the most votes were as follows: (more…)
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
The U.S. wind power industry continued to grow in 2009 despite a global recession, adding 9,900 megawatts — a capacity increase of about 39 percent — according to a new report.
That growth, which was boosted by a federal stimulus package that extended the tax credit for wind energy production and offered other incentives, represents the largest single-year jump on record for the industry, according to the annual report released by the American Wind Energy Association.
The added capacity was 18 percent greater than the growth in 2008. But that momentum could slow in 2010, the report said, since the sluggish economy has slowed orders for new turbines and will likely mean fewer installations this year.
With the added capacity, wind energy contributes nearly 2 percent of the nation’s electricity. The U.S. continues to lag behind Europe, however, which gets about 5 percent of its electricity from wind energy.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Windation Energy Systems has developed an urban-wind rooftop turbine designed for commercial and industrial buildings. Billed as “permit-ready” and “bird safe,” Windation’s 5 kW turbine resembles a commercial AC unit and leverages a proprietary vacuum system to purportedly amplify wind speed and boost energy output. The company’s first installation is expected this quarter in Palo Alto, CA.
CleanTechies aimed four questions at CEO and founder Mark Sheikhrezai.
Monday, January 25th, 2010
Growing algae for biofuels is an energy-intensive process that can generate more greenhouse gases than the process sequesters, according to a new study.
Examining the life cycle of algal biofuels, researchers from the University of Virginia found that the process emits high levels of greenhouse gases because algal production requires using large amounts of fertilizer.