Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’
Before 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 »
Something? Anything? Listening to the debates one might think climate change was not an economic, health, safety and security issue worthy of discussion.
It’s really disheartening, but it’s also a pure calculation – apparently both sides believe that there are few if any votes in numbers that matter by talking about climate change, especially in the swing states where the final battles are occurring.
It’s also startling, and historic. Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts and ClimateSilence.org: “For the first time since 1984, the presidential and vice presidential debates have ignored the threat of climate change. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Governor Mitt Romney, and Representative Paul Ryan have failed to debate the greatest challenge of our time. Climate change threatens us all: the candidates’ silence threatens to seal our fate.”
In the second debate President Obama and Mitt Romney extolled the virtues of coal and natural gas during a sequence on the high cost of gasoline, but they neglected to mention the costs of climate change now and for future generations by relying so heavily on gasoline and fossil fuels for energy, especially “clean” coal. (This just in – there is no such thing as clean coal.)
In the third debate the focus was on foreign policy, a perfect opportunity to weigh-in on the dangers to security and the environment coming from reliance on oil from the most volatile region in the world, which happens to sit on most of the globe’s oil reserves. But no.
The connection between foreign policy, peace, energy, economic and environmental security is real and needs to be addressed – the candidates’ silence on this is dumbfounding and cynical.
[Image: TV screenshot]
I’ve been obsessing perhaps a little too much about the Romney/Ryan “energy policy” and attitude towards climate change, so it was refreshing to see President Obama’s evisceration of them during his DNC speech.
He rebuked Mitt Romney’s ridiculous joke making climate change a punchline at the Republican National Convention. “Climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.”
Here are his comments, from the transcript, which Obama followed pretty much verbatim:
“You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day – more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades.
Now you have a choice – between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more. But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers.
“We’re offering a better path – a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.
“And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.”
Great stuff from Obama and the Dems – especially calling out Romney and the Republicans on their lies and lopsided view of America.
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 »
Pacific Northwest aviation and renewable energy interests say there are encouraging signs of an emerging market for sustainable aviation fuels. And those same interests want to make it real.
The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest consortium, in a report this month, concludes that no single feedstock or technology pathway is likely to provide sustainable aviation fuel at the scale or speed needed to produce and maintain jet fuel supply.
Therefore, the 132-page report, “Powering the Next Generation of Flight,” focuses on a portfolio of options, including different conversion technologies and sources of potentially sustainable biomass, including oilseeds, forest residues, solid waste, and algae.
Instead of trying to single out the best source of aviation fuels, SAFN emphasizes the need to create “complete supply chains that can draw upon diverse feedstocks.” Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Pacific Northwest aviation businesses and airports are flying together to promote aviation biofuel development in the region.
The “strategic initiative,” launched this week, includes Alaska Airlines, The Boeing Company, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University. The “Sustainable Aviation Fuel Northwest” project is the first regional assessment of this kind in the U.S., according to a joint announcement from the group.
It will examine all phases of developing a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and actual use by airlines. It will include an analysis of potential biomass sources that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including algae, agriculturally based oilseeds such as camelina, wood byproducts and others. The project is jointly funded by the participating parties and is expected to be completed in about six months.