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Archive for the ‘renewable enegy’ Category

Utilities’ use of renewable energy rising

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ceres picThe “new reality” facing electricity consumers and their utility companies is that renewable energy is meeting an increasingly larger share of U.S. energy needs, according to a report from Ceres and Clean Edge.

That translates into more and better choices and a clean energy future.

“Renewables—including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, waste heat and small-scale hydroelectric—accounted for a whopping 49 percent of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2012, with new wind development outpacing even natural gas,” writes Jon Wellinghoff, partner at Stoel Rives LLP and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the report.

Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2014, is the first annual report from Ceres in partnership with Clean Edge on this subject. It ranks the nation’s 32 largest electric utilities and their local subsidiaries on their renewable energy sales and energy efficiency savings. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

Microsoft doubled renewable energy purchases in FY 2013

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MS citizenshipBefore this difficult year fades into history, I wanted to call attention to an excellent development, care of a local PNW company you may have heard of, Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft’s 2013 “Citizenship Report” describes an ambitious agenda that features making its operations carbon neutral, and using the “power of technology” to promote human rights.

The software giant’s fiscal year 2013 was pivotal on those points, CEO Steven A. Ballmer wrote, because it took the “first big, bold steps” in it its transformation to a devices and services company and in its citizenship work. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

December 5, 2013 at 4:30 am

Romney energy policy: oil and gas

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And renewables? Fuhgetaboudit! A clean energy economy is the sort of idea that’s impossible to find in Mitt Romney’s approach to energy policy, contained in his 87-page platform document, “Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.”

Romney’s energy program is so bereft of new ideas and so cynically beholding to Big Oil and King Coal that it’s almost breathtaking: basically, whatever the fossil fuel industry wants, Romney is there.

One of the bills he says he’ll introduce on “day one” of his presidency will direct the Department of Interior “to undertake a comprehensive survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies and initiate leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration.”

There it is—Romney the handmaiden and toady for Big Oil and King Coal on energy policy. Exactly what the economy and the environment needs. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

June 4, 2012 at 2:00 am

No Doublespeak in Nukespeak

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In The Stand, one of Stephen King’s early (and imo best) novels a nuclear power plant becomes a central part of the action, and indeed is instrumental in keeping the world from descending into barbarism.

It sort of makes the point that, as The Police say, “When the world is running down/You make the best of what’s still around.” There is something to be said for the role of nuclear power as part of the modern-day, post-carbon-based fuel energy mix.

But a revised and updated version of the Sierra’s Club‘s classic Nukespeak throws some needed clear thinking about the inherent dangers of nuclear energy and concludes, as the first edition did, that it’s not really worth the risk.

Nearly 30 years ago, in the wake of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the first edition of Nukespeak from Sierra Club Books was published and immediately framed public debate on the immense risks of nuclear technology.

The extensively revised and updated edition promises to continue that debate, especially in the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

According to the Club, the original 1982 edition broke through the “linguistic filter of the nuclear mindset,” by documenting how nuclear developers confused their hopes—remember the dream of energy too cheap to meter?—with reality, covered up damaging information, harassed and dismissed scientists who disagreed with official policy, and generated false or misleading statistics to bolster their assertions about the benefits and safety of nuclear power. Read the rest of this entry »

Charged for EV Charging at Apartment Complexes

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Here’s an amenity coming soon to an apartment complex near you: electric vehicle charging stations.

Car Charging Group and Equity Residential have teamed up to solve the problem of how to conveniently charge your new Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or Wheego LiFe if you’re an apart dweller.

Car Charging, based in Miami, owns and operates EV charging services and plans to build a nationwide network of charging stations. Its business model focuses on residential charging services, which is where Equity Residential, a leading owner, developer and operator of high-end apartment communities, enters the picture. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

June 28, 2011 at 2:10 am

Earth Day viewing: Nova’s Power Surge

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PBS’ production of Power Surge, aired on Nova Wednesday night, is an excellent companion as we settle in for Earth Day musings and strategies.

The show lays out the current status of climate change and what is doable on an individual and global basis. For example energy efficiency, while certainly not the total answer, will help tremendously. Take a look at the carbon footprint of the average U.S. family in a year–some 50 tons of CO2!

Remarkably, while there’s no glossing over that what we’ve done to the planet is alarming and dangerous and getting more so — the show has an upbeat and even optimistic message. It’s a solvable crisis because we have the technology and innovative ideas; we need the will for change.

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 22, 2011 at 2:00 am

Have a sustainable, renewable New Year

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This is the time of year when writers, journalists, bloggers or whatever we scribblers have become in an age where communication and connection occurs mostly in 140-word snippets or less take a look back and ahead. Top Ten lists abound; crystal ball thumb-sucking dots the landscape and cyberspace.

I’ll leave that listing and prediction stuff (mostly) to the experts, or at least to those who have managed to stay gainfully and reliably employed over the last 12 months. They must have greater insight, or skills or something.

I do have some observations, for what they are worth:

- The usual word to describe the recovery is fragile but I prefer chimerical. Corporate profits are rebounding, Wall Street’s escape act was hugely successful and Republicans proved once again that America’s short-term memory disorder is firmly entrenched and that lies, inaccuracies, misrepresentations, denials, polarization and fear-mongering is a winning strategy. Well, winning for them – for many the economic recovery is mostly non-existent: unemployment hovers stubbornly around 10 percent; wages continue their decline; the housing market remains in the toilet; energy costs are increasing; the stranglehold of Big Oil and Big Coal continues unabated.

- Whatever the emerging ‘new normal’ is, it’s not much fun – it’s really pretty raw, stressful and uncertain.

- On a personal note: Freelancing should never be construed as working for free! OK? Are we clear?

- Environmentally-speaking, when electric vehicles hit the market in a major and consumer-friendly way—and one, the Chevy Volt, wins Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award—that is stunning and hopeful progress.

- Environmentally-speaking, when a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon occurs and little to nothing occurs to change our dependence on fossil fuel, or regulation of Big Oil, that is stunning and disturbing progress of an entirely different sort.

So ‘here’s to the new boss, same as the old boss.’

Here’s to the New Year, same as the Old Year.

Exim Bank and Sasan Power: Is the fix on for dirty energy?

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The Sierra Club is getting after the U.S. Export-Import Bank for subsidizing fossil fuel projects around the world at the expense of clean energy projects as part of its huge portfolio of loans and loan guarantee programs. Ex-Im Bank’s activity comes despite pledges from the Obama Administration to phase out financial support for polluting projects.

A recent flashpoint for the club’s ire occurred last month when the Ex-Im Bank’s board of directors, in a reversal of a previous decision, approved a “preliminary review”  of Reliance Power’s export financing application for India’s Sasan “ultra-megawatt” coal-fired plant project. The move, while not a final approval of the application, essentially paves the way for that to happen.

On June 24th, the board had voted not to proceed with further review of the application for the Sasan project based on environmental concerns. After an intense lobbying campaign Reliance Power entered into a memorandum of understanding with Ex-Im “indicating Reliance’s intent to develop a new 250 megawatt renewable energy facility, which when built will rank among the largest renewable energy projects in India,” Ex-Im asserted.

With that somewhat vague assurance, it looks like the fix is on for the proposed $600 million Ex-Im loan guarantee for the Sasan Power Ltd. coal-fired plant. Sasan, by the way, is a fully-owned subsidiary of Reliance Power.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 18, 2010 at 2:00 am

A solar ‘sledgehammer’ to produce biomass gas

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This is really neat but will using solar power to create fuel have long-term legs? We’ll see – at some point alternative, renewal fuel ideas will have to catch on, won’t they?

Anyway this one is called solar biomass gasification, a concept and process that’s been around for some time, mostly in university scientific research circles. A relatively new company that has emerged from that university research environment, Sundrop Fuels Inc., might have the drop on making a commercial go of it.

CEO Wayne Simmons puts it quite succinctly: “We’re going to convert the sun’s energy into liquid fuel using concentrated solar power to gasify biomass, then convert the resulting syngas into green gasoline or diesel.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 6, 2010 at 2:00 am

Juice is juicy, gas is too gassy

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J.D. Power is weighing-in with a degree of optimism on the future of electric-powered vehicles as a power behind the drive to “go green.”

A recent report from the customer satisfaction, buyer behavior and product quality rating firm says global alternative vehicle sales are rising and that sales will get a further lift when battery electric vehicles (BEVs) start to enter the market in larger numbers next year.

But while the percentage increases look good, sales on a unit basis will remain small, hardly a blip in the overall scheme of things. And this sector, which includes hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), will remain dominated by the gas-electric hybrid segment for the immediate future.

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