Monday, January 25th, 2010
The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year. With 200 ethanol distilleries in the country set up to transform food into fuel, the amount of grain processed has tripled since 2004.
The United States looms large in the world food economy: it is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies. (more…)
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Installing wind turbines or solar panels on homes that are not well-insulated or energy-efficient amounts to little more than “eco-bling” that makes owners feel good but does little to reduce carbon emissions, according to a study by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering.
To meet the U.K.’s goal of making all new homes and buildings carbon neutral by 2020 and slashing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the report said, the government should focus on making new buildings highly energy-efficient, retrofitting older buildings to improve their energy efficiency, and investing in large-scale wind and solar projects.
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Wind energy could provide 20 percent of the electricity for the eastern half of the United States by 2024, but only if the nation makes a significant financial investment, according to new government report.
About $90 billion would be required to install a network of land- and sea-based wind turbines and about 22,000 miles of new power lines, according to the study published by U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The report said that the government would have to provide a significant portion of that investment through programs such as loan guarantees.
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Felix Kramer of Calcars thinks 2010 will be the year of the plug-in car. He’s got a good case: After years of advocacy and technology development, 2010 is the year that major manufacturers will finally make plug-ins broadly available, and rapidly decreasing battery costs are helping the conversion industry reach new customers and help retrofit the existing fleet at scale. After years of work and promise, 2010 is the payoff year.
I see a similar trend in solar in California, where years of policy and business development are all coming together to make 2010 an extraordinary year for solar development.
There are four major market drivers:
Monday, January 18th, 2010
Imagine being able to extract the solar energy trapped in the world’s tropical oceans and use it as a renewable power source.
Although that might sound like science fiction, a company in Hawaii called Ocees International Inc. is pursuing the technology — and it’s turned to a new Lancaster-based venture capital fund for help.
JPF Venture Fund 1 is the brainchild of Lancaster County resident Jeremy P. Feakins and his administrative team, which includes midstate businessmen Jim Greenberg and Ed Baer.
Friday, January 15th, 2010
Chinese manufacturers of photovoltaic solar panels have secured an increasing hold in California, the United States’ largest solar market, doubling their market share in the last year alone, according to a new report.
In the last three years, China’s share of the market increased from 2 percent to 46 percent, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research and consulting firm.
The share of U.S. manufacturers in the California market dropped from 43 percent to 16 percent during that same period.
“The ascendancy of Chinese manufacturers would be noteworthy regardless of market conditions, but is particularly telling in a time when purse-strings are still tight,” the report said. (more…)
Friday, January 15th, 2010
Nine years into a regulatory battle that has been fought in virtually every legal , political and bureaucratic venue imaginable, Secretary of State Ken Salazar said today that the stakeholders must come to a compromise by March 1 or he would intervene and make the final decision on the proposed offshore wind farm in the waters of Nantucket Sound near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Salazar reiterated that if the timeline he laid down last week wasn’t met, he would consult with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent party, to make a final decision.
In a series of meetings with about three dozen representatives of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Native American groups, Cape Wind and the primary opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Secretary Salazar said “the public, the applicants and all the stakeholders deserve resolution,” calling the nine-year process an example of government failure. (more…)
Thursday, January 14th, 2010
A period of extremely cold, windless weather has brought home to the British the drawbacks of relying on wind power and the need to keep a supply of natural gas in reserve. While the cold spell has strained natural gas supplies, leading in some cases to cutoffs to industrial users, it also has highlighted the unpredictability of wind power. Although Britain’s wind farms are supposed to provide 5 percent of the country’s electricity, they were in fact only providing 0.2 percent during the recent run of frigid, still days.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
A campaign was launched last week in which celebrities, business leaders, environmentalists, politicians and school kids around the world communicate their hopes for life on earth by 2020. These hopes are being conveyed as part of the 2020 Vision campaign launched by Planet Positive .
The campaign provides people with the chance to express their view of the future via online movies, illustrations or written word. The website allows anyone anywhere in the world to view visions and upload their own, stimulating debate around climate change.
The website also provides people with some reassurance and clarity on the innovation, infrastructure and products that will help them shift into low carbon, more sustainable lifestyles. There are ten online sections, which provide information on key areas of human life such as Home, Energy, Food, Water, Travel, Transport, Communication and Entertainment.
Monday, January 11th, 2010
HelioFocus Ltd., an Israel-based solar thermal systems start-up, has raised more than $10 million from China’s Zhejiang Sanhua Co. and existing investor IC Green Energy.
HelioFocus announced the investment last week at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where HelioFocus is developing its solar thermal technology to boost electricity production of existing power plants.
HelioFocus CEO Ory Zik said Sanhua, the Chinese maker of appliance components whose stock is traded on the Shenzhen stock exchange, would be not just a financial investor in the company, but will also produce some solar thermal components.