Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
I am coming to the conclusion that the wind turbines of today — hundreds of feet tall, sporting three blades, clustered in the cornfields like rotary clubs — will soon go the way of the Model T. Good for their day, but we’ve moved on.
I explored alternative designs in wind power for my latest “Innovate” column in Sierra magazine, and can report that 31 flavors of turbines are poised to engulf the plain ol’ vanilla version we know so well. It isn’t that anything’s so wrong with Old Reliable; it’s more that there’s categories of wind that a giant whirligig just can’t use. (more…)
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
With all the hoopla going around for and against wind farms going up all over the US, including here on the Great Lakes and off of Nantucket Sound, I feel it is important to weigh in with a little fact checking on “not-in-my-backyard” (NIMBY) claims. After reading all the comments that are inevitably posted to every article involving the wind industry, I feel it is important to quash all the falsehoods associated with wind power.
I’ll start by saying that I am first and foremost pro-environment before anything else. If “evidence” is ever found during an environmental impact study that a wind farm will harm the local ecosystem, I will be the first in line to oppose it’s construction. Now let’s see some comments from these related links.
First let’s start with the argument that “wind turbines do not produce enough electricity to be a viable investment.” If this was true, then even with government subsidies, wind farm developers would go bankrupt soon. Instead wind farms are a 30 year success story in the US alone. My favorite success story is of farmers in Minnesota and their community owned wind crop.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Many are aware of the subsidies, tax credits, and grants available to property owners and utilities to install and utilize alternative energy (i.e., wind, solar, biomass, etc.). Unfortunately, many forget that these technologies need to be manufactured somewhere. The majority of the panels that go into a photovoltaic array and the large blades that make up wind turbines are currently being manufactured overseas, often in China. This directly contradicts President Obama’s plan to spur green job growth with the passage of the Stimulus Bill. Enter the Security in Energy and Manufacturing Act (SEAM Act). (more…)
Monday, May 24th, 2010
Another Bad Week, Or a Really Good One? Good news grows as slow as a tree, but bad news spills as fast as a broken oil main. That seems to be the lesson from this week as BP, the U.S. government and an armada of ships and volunteers tried but mostly failed to contain the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Though BP had some success at slowing the spigot, oil is pooling in the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta and resides at unmeasured quantities in the deeps. There it has joined the Loop Current with a probable next stop in Florida.
Meanwhile, 1,500 miles north, an equally momentous event drew little attention: an agreement to curtail or end logging on 72 million acres of Canada’s boreal forest, an area roughly the size of France. An unlikely consortium of logging companies and Greenpeace agreed to halt the chainsaws altogether for three years in an area as big as Montana, and to develop a sustainable-forestry program for the remainder. The accord might be the forerunner to permanent protection for an area that encompasses two-thirds of Canada’s logging concessions. (more…)
Monday, May 24th, 2010
(Reuters) – General Electric Co said on Monday it was tapped to sell wind turbines for what is expected to be the first freshwater wind farm in the United States, planned for Lake Erie in the American Midwest.
The largest U.S. conglomerate will initially provide five four-megawatt turbines to the planned wind farm, which is expected to begin operation in late 2012 and would be capable of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of 16,000 typical American homes.
The wind farm is scheduled to be built off the shores of Cleveland, Ohio, and its developers — the nonprofit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp — have a long-term goal of building it out to have a capacity of producing 1,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020.
Friday, May 14th, 2010
The Oil Spill’s Unlikely Victim: As oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill continued to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, it tarred the feathers of an endangered creature: the climate bill. Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced a retooled American Power Act on Wednesday to little fanfare. Perhaps that’s because the media’s klieg lights were already divided between the grilling of oil executives on Capitol Hill or the so-far hapless efforts to plug the leak. Or maybe it’s because the two senators took to the dais without their erstwhile Republican ally, Lindsey Graham. Nevertheless, it was ironic to see a solution to our fossil-fuel addiction pushed to the side because of a fossil-fuel disaster. Must we cap the gusher before we get a cap on CO2?
More Electric Cars Roll to the Starting Line: You’ve heard that the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt are on the way, but how about the Think and the Wheego? Wheego, a maker of electric putt-putt vehicles based in Atlanta, hopes that 200 highway-ready copies of its Whip Life will roll off the assembly line by August, months ahead of the well-publicized launch of the Leaf. Meanwhile, the Norwegian carmaker Think raised $40 million this week and plans to start assembly of the tiny Think City in Elkhart, Indiana in early 2011.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
There has been a ton of money floating out of Washington the past couple of years. Much is going toward propping up state governments with budget shortfalls, helping those who cannot find work by extending unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance coverage, and a ton of dough is going to the banks.
This leaves a lot of us wondering, where is my stimulus package?
As an avid reader of current events and a novice financial expert, my opinion is perhaps literally worth two cents. As a renewable energy professional who has spent the past two years learning about solar energy and energy efficiency through community college courses and technical schools, I can tell there is a lot of money going to the right places.
In addition to extending unemployment benefits, there is a good deal of money flowing into community colleges and renewable energy. For example, I was able to get reimbursed from my state, New York, for the classes I took on energy efficiency. (more…)
Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
Google has invested $39 million in a 160-megawatt wind farm in North Dakota, marking the first time that the search engine giant has made a direct investment in a wind energy project.
Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has previously invested in renewable energy startups, such as the solar thermal companies eSolar and Brightsource.
But the North Dakota wind power investment comes directly out of Google’s treasury and represents the company’s growing involvement in the renewable energy industry.
A Google spokesman said, “You can think of it as a way to diversify our cash holdings while investing in an area that we think is important to support.” (more…)
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Two Tales of Ocean Energy: Major events in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico laid out the U.S.’s energy choices in stark contrast. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill made landfall in Louisiana, a week after the offshore rig caught fire and sank. Oyster beds and wildlife are at risk, and the spill may grow to be one of the largest in U.S. history. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light to the Cape Wind installation, the first offshore wind farm to be approved in U.S. waters. Its 130 turbines, projected to be up and running by 2012, will provide 75 percent of the electricity needed on Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket Sound.
Climate Bill Stalls: The U.S. Senate’s version of a climate bill was yanked at the last moment when Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican co-sponsor of the legislation, withdrew his support to protest the Democrats’ sudden crusade for immigration reform. No definite plans for a new bill have emerged. (more…)
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, a $1 billion project that has survived nine years of regulatory review and a well-financed campaign to kill the plan.
The Cape Wind project will include construction of 130 wind turbines over a 24-square-mile area in the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound, an area within view of the tourist regions of Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.
Salazar called the project a first step in the nation’s “clean energy revolution,” and vowed, “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.” (more…)