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Historic Energy Decisions in U.S. and Canada | The Energy Collective

Historic Energy Decisions in U.S. and Canada | The Energy Collective | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

Renewable energy in the U.S. and Canada will rise while the consumption of fossil fuels lessens.Wishful thinking by some people to the contrary, fossil fuels are here to stay for at least the next 30-40 years. In North America this timeframe will be an era of transition as the proportion of renewable energy in the U.S. and Canada will rise while the consumption of fossil fuels lessens.


Via Pol Bacquet
Duane Tilden's insight:

The increase in U.S. oil production is the result of advances in non-traditional drilling technologies, including oil hydrofracking [...].  For its natural gas production, the U.S. is in the throes of a hydrofracking frenzy, producing natural gas in unprecedented amounts. [...]


The U.S. trend toward energy self sufficiency represents a precarious situation for Canada’s economic wellbeing since 95 percent of Canada’s energy exports (including hydroelectric power) today go to the U.S.  [...]

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Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, February 9, 2013 6:27 AM

"Historically, the U.S. and Canada have enjoyed a symbiotic energy relationship: Canada sold energy and the U.S. bought it — the lion’s share of U.S. energy imports coming from its neighbor to the north. But now, the U.S. and Canada are entering a period of still overlapping, but fundamentally different, energy agendas."

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Microgrid Integration with Public Transportation

Microgrid Integration with Public Transportation | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Superstorm Sandy crippled much of New Jersey’s critical infrastructure two years ago. Stuck without power at home, many also couldn’t get to work because the operations center for New Jersey Transit flooded, damaging backup power systems, emergency generation, and the computers that control train operations.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] After a highly competitive grant process, NJ Transit last week received $1.3 billion in federal funds to improve the resilience of the state’s transportation system in the event of devastating future storms. The funds include $410 million to develop the NJ TransitGrid into a first-of-its-kind microgrid capable of keeping the power running when the electric grid goes down.

Microgrids are different from traditional electric grids in that they generate electricity on-site or nearby where it’s consumed. They can connect to the larger grid or island themselves and operate independently.

The NJ TransitGrid will not only generate power on-site but will incorporate a range of clean energy technologies such as renewable energy, energy storage, and distributed generation. This microgrid will also allow NJ Transit and Amtrak trains running on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the country’s busiest train line, to keep operating during an outage.

Environmental Defense Fund joined state and federal stakeholders, such as New Jersey Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding and the U.S. Department of Energy, in the early stages of NJ TransitGrid planning. EDF also wrote a letter in support of New Jersey’s application for the funds from the Federal Transit Administration.

The $1.3 billion in total federal funds received by NJ Transit will go toward a range of resiliency and restoration projects across the system, including flood protection, drawbridge replacement, train storage and service restoration, and making train controls more resilient. These funds will also be used to fortify critical Amtrak substations.

Serving almost 900,000 passengers daily, NJ Transit is the third largest transit system in the country connecting travelers to the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. An independent microgrid for NJ Transit will prepare the state for future extreme weather events, which are happening more frequently due to climate change. Furthermore, the use of clean energy resources will make this microgrid a less polluting and more efficient operation for New Jersey’s day-to-day needs."<

 
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Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment

Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Currently, about 10 percent of the world’s oil and one-quarter of its natural gas production come from the Arctic region, which has warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius since the mid-1960s. Countries that border the Arctic Ocean are staking claims to expand their rights beyond the traditional 200-mile exclusive economic zone in anticipation of future oil and gas prospects. According to current estimates, the United States has the largest Arctic oil resources, both on and offshore. Russia comes in second for oil, but it has the most natural gas. Norway and Greenland are virtually tied for third largest combined oil and gas resources. Canada comes in fifth, with almost equal parts oil and natural gas.

In developing these resources, Russia is leading the pack. Production has started at almost all of the 43 large oil and natural gas fields that have been discovered in the Russian Arctic, both on land and offshore. Russia drew its first oil from an offshore rig in Arctic waters in December 2013. […]

[…] operating in the Arctic brings great risks. The shrinking Arctic sea iceallows waves to become more powerful. The remaining ice can be more easily broken up into ice floes that can collide with vessels or drilling platforms. Large icebergs can scour the ocean floor, bursting pipes or other buried infrastructure. Much of the onshore infrastructure is built on permafrost—frozen ground—that can shift as the ground thaws from regional warming, threatening pipe ruptures. Already, official Russian sources estimate that there have been more than 20,000 oil spills annually from pipelines across Russia in recent years.  Arctic operations are far away from major emergency response support. The freezing conditions make it unsafe for crews to be outside for extended periods of time. Even communication systems are less reliable at the far end of the Earth. Why take such risks to pursue these dirty fuels when alternatives to oil and gas are there for the taking?

Rather than searching for new ways to get oil, we can look for better ways to move people and goods. Bus rapid transit, light rail and high-speed rail can move more people for less energy than a car can. And for the cars that remain on the road, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—powered by a clean energy grid—are much more efficient than those with a traditional internal combustion engine. Encouraging bicycle use through bike lanes andbike-sharing programs gets people active and out of cars.

Natural gas, which is mainly used to produce electricity, can be replaced with power generated by wind, solar, and geothermal projects. Many countries are demonstrating what is possible with renewables. Denmark already gets one-third of its electricity from wind. Australia is now dotted with 1 million rooftop solar systems. Iceland generates enough geothermal power to meet close to 30 percent of its electricity needs. These are just a few examples of looking past the old familiar solution to a better cleaner one. The risky search under every rock and iceberg for oil and gas deposits is a costly distraction from investing in a clean energy future."<

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Sustainability and Development - Defining Relationships between Humanity, Energy and the Natural World

Sustainability and Development - Defining Relationships between Humanity, Energy and the Natural World | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

A new ‘Zeitgeist’ is increasingly taking hold in growing pockets of society, politics and the business world. All indications point to one direction – towards the concept of ‘sustainability’ dominating human behavior and thinking in the twenty-first century.  

Duane Tilden's insight:

As the urbanization wave around the globe rolls on, megacities are increasingly becoming the epicenter of human life and economic activity for billions of people. Inevitably, this trend will bring about new challenges and exacerbate looming, well-known challenges such as climate change. As the World Economic Forum notes in a newly-released report on “The Competitiveness of Cities”: “Cities are especially intensive users of energy, food and water, given their concentrations of people and economic activity, and are responsible for over half of global greenhouse gas emissions. Their challenge, particularly in the developing world, is to fuse technology and markets to become much more efficient in using available resources.” Climate Actions and Economic Significance of Cities Source: Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP); data in overview from various sources Thus, global needs for clean water, sanitation and food as well as demand for energy, mobility (transportation) and for an improved standard of living will increase and put tremendous strain on existing natural resources. The growing awareness of environmental problems – especially that without a timely, coordinated, and ‘corrective’ intervention by governments the problem of climate change will eventually become irreversible – in addition to the perception of natural resources’ finite supply brings any debate back to the fundamental question of how to sustain life on earth. What is Sustainable Development about?  The first association that comes to mind has to do with energy needs in general – and the finite fossil fuel supply amid projected future demand growth – and carbon-emissions-free energy in particular. Renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro) have the potential to pick up the slack and supply a larger percentage of projected future energy demand globally. In this context, technological innovation represents one suitable solution to problems related to sustainability. However, a different angle to tackle these problems is a change in human behavior based on better information and awareness leading to energy savings by implementing simple energy efficiency measures. This point emphasizes the importance of public awareness and/or education, which can serve as a catalyst for action – i.e. a change of course. Apart from concerns about energy, the concept of sustainability includes all aspects of political, economic, and social life in so far as present actions may constrict future actions. The so-called UN ‘Brundtland Report’ from 1987 is very instructive on this topic and defines sustainable development as follows: “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits – not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities. But technology and social organization can be both managed and improved to make way for a new era of economic growth. [...]

To date, many companies have realized the merits of modifying their products and processes to become more sustainable. (…) But, these [incremental] innovations will only get us so far. What we need are not just better products and processes, but fundamentally different business models. We need companies and industries whose underlying structures are, at worst, zero negative impact, and at best, contributing to the regeneration and restoration of natural, human and social capital.” The US utility industry will have no other choice than taking steps along the path towards more ‘value creation from sustainability’ in order to remain a viable business model for future generations.

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High-tech firms target energy efficiency for long term investment

High-tech firms target energy efficiency for long term investment | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON — As President Obama pushes ahead on a strategy for confronting climate change that relies heavily on energy efficiency, some Americans may see flashbacks of Jimmy Carter trying to persuade them to wear an extra sweater and turn down the thermostat.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Long overshadowed by wind turbines, solar panels and other fashionable machines of renewable power, energy efficiency has lately become a hot pursuit for tech entrepreneurs, big-data enthusiasts and Wall Street speculators.

They have leveraged multibillion-dollar programs in several states, led by California and Massachusetts, to cultivate a booming industry. This onetime realm of scolds, do-gooders and bureaucrats has become the stuff of TED Talks, IPOs and spirited privacy debates.

"This is not about extra sweaters anymore," said Jon Wellinghoff, a San Francisco lawyer who formerly chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Power companies are tapping databases to profile intensely the energy use of their customers, the way that firms like Target track customer product choices. Google Inc. spent $3.2 billion this year to buy Nest, a firm that makes thermostats that resemble iPhones and are designed to intuit the needs of their owners. Energy regulators are providing seed capital to start-ups building such things as waterless laundry machines.

"There was this notion that energy efficiency would never be sexy, never be something people wanted," said Ben Bixby, director of energy products at Nest, which has attracted employees from Apple Inc., Google and Tesla Motors Inc. to its base in Palo Alto.

"Nest has built this object of desire," he said.

On hot days, Nest's technology enables Southern California Edison to precool the homes of customers before the evening rush, helping the utility avoid the need to fire up extra power plants and netting cash rebates for homeowners.

Spending on efficiency technologies and programs soared to $250 billion worldwide last year, according to the International Energy Agency. The agency projects that amount will more than double by 2035.

U.S. power companies have tripled their investment in efficiency programs — funded mainly through ratepayer fees — since 2006, with California spending the most per customer."<



Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-climate-efficiency-20140626,0,2473215.story#ixzz36DgEcCTY ;

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Russia-China Liquified Natural Gas Deal Limits BC's LNG Market and Economic Appeal

Russia-China Liquified Natural Gas Deal Limits BC's LNG Market and Economic Appeal | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The new Russia-China gas deal “could squeeze the economics” of proposed LNG projects, according to a new report by Toronto-Dominion Bank
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Russia recently clinched a US$400-billion deal to feed China around 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas via pipelines at a chummy price of $10-$11 per million cubic feet, shaking up an industry that is used to fetching $14-$18 per mcf from Asian markets.

The deal, along with a new trend of setting prices linked to gas prices rather than the traditional crude oil benchmarks, could upset British Columbia’s dream of launching a liquefied natural gas export industry.

“Clearly with so much LNG supply capacity set to come on stream, Asian buyers have more power to bargain for lower prices in LNG contracts, lowering the potential prices Canadian producers would receive, and could squeeze the economics of certain LNG projects,” TD said in a note published Thursday.

The deal has already created ripples across LNG-dependent markets such as Japan. This week, 38 Japanese lawmakers said they plan to lobby Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to revive a stalled Russia-Japan natural gas pipeline."<

 

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Geothermal Energy: Superior to Natural Gas for Powering the Electrical Grid

Geothermal Energy:  Superior to Natural Gas for Powering the Electrical Grid | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Geothermal resources provide about 3,440 MW of power to the United States electrical grid as of early 2014.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"In a recent report, the Geothermal Energy Association explored geothermal power’s unique values that make it essential to the U.S. energy mix.  These plants have the same important baseload qualities coal now provides for over two thirds of the electric power generation in the nation.  Geothermal can be a high-value substitute for baseload fossil fuel or nuclear power plants, providing firm, clean power 24 hours a day regardless of extraneous conditions.  

“As state and national policies move to significantly reduce climate changing power emissions, geothermal is a baseload clean energy that can replace baseload fossil fuels at a minimum cost to the power system,” says Karl Gawell, GEA’s executive director. 

Gawell explains that as the grid uses more variable energy resources, which it most certainly will, the flexibility of geothermal energy is an attribute that regulators are still learning about.  “Flexible geothermal can help firm the system, allowing for imbalance, and is able to provide supplemental reserve,” he adds.

The U.S. continues to make strides toward a cleaner energy mix largely through wind and solar contracts to meet goals of state Renewable Portfolio Standards. This creates a greater need for firming power, and although geothermal can provide this as well, it could get lost in the mix if natural gas becomes a fallback to offset intermittency.

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called natural gas “the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” Geothermal energy, too, provides the same stabilizing function as natural gas and comes with unique environmental and economic ancillary benefits. Ancillary services support the transmission of electricity from a supplier to a purchaser and include scheduling and dispatch, reactive power and voltage control, loss compensation, load following, system protection, and energy imbalance. 

A geothermal plant can be engineered to optimize these services. In most geothermal plants built today, operators can increase or decrease the amount of power being generated in order to match load requirements — such as making up for gaps caused by intermittency.   Geothermal energy and natural gas play a similar role to the power grid with the capability to dispatch, or to change a facility’s power output by ramping up or down depending on system needs."<

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U.S. Army and USGS Confirm Historic Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

U.S. Army and USGS Confirm Historic Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The U.S. natural gas industry claims that hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking is safe. Yet government agencies have determined otherwise.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.

 Why?

In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend's seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

The U.S. natural gas industry pumps a mixture of water and assorted chemicals deep underground to shatter sediment layers containing natural gas, a process called hydraulic fracturing, known more informally as “fracking.” While environmental groups have primarily focused on fracking’s capacity to pollute underground water, a more ominous byproduct emerges from U.S. government studies – that forcing fluids under high pressure deep underground produces increased regional seismic activity.

As the U.S. natural gas industry mounts an unprecedented and expensive advertising campaign to convince the public that such practices are environmentally benign, U.S. government agencies have determined otherwise."<

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California’s drought and Agriculture - Running out of Water

California’s drought and Agriculture - Running out of Water | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Droughts aren’t new to the golden state, but this one is for the ages and it comes with a distinct set of troubles
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"The situation has even sparked a trip from President Obama, who visited the epicenter of California’s massive agriculture industry, the Central Valley, on Friday and announced $100 million in livestock disaster assistance, $5 million in targeted assistance for hard-hit areas, $5 million for watershed protection programs, $60 million for food banks and 600 new sites for a summer meals program, $3 million in emergency water assistance for rural communities, and a commitment from the federal government to reduce water use and focus nation-wide on climate resilience. [...]


The elephant in the room when it comes to water in California is agriculture, which uses around 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply. Ag in California is king — the state has more than 80,000 farms and an annual revenue of $45 billion a year. The California department of Food and Agriculture reports that 400 commodities are grown in the state and almost half of all the fruits, vegetables and nuts produced in the US come from California. The biggest money maker is milk at $6.9 billion a year, followed by grapes, almonds, nursery plants, cattle, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay and tomatoes.

However large swathes of the state’s agricultural areas, like the Central Valley, are only farmable because of subsidized water coming through a network of canals and pumps that send water from the wetter north to more arid lands further south via the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project (parts of Southern California also get an allotment of the Colorado River).

Of course we need food, but are we growing the right food in the right places and with the best technology possible to reduce water use? In some places yes, but across the board, definitely not."<


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SolarCoin a new cryptocurrency based on Solar Energy

SolarCoin a new cryptocurrency based on Solar Energy | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

A new cryptocurrency with a solar-powered twist could be just the incentive we need to make the shift to clean energy.

Duane Tilden's insight:

>SolarCoin chose solar rather than another renewable technology because investment in solar panels is easier than in wind turbines, for example. "Solar is interesting because it can be very grassroots," says Gogerty. He and a colleague first conceived of an energy-backed asset in 2011 but couldn't make the idea work without a central bank. Bitcoin makes the bank unnecessary. "We're very thankful for Bitcoin leading the change."

Bitcoin has been accused of wasting energy in the past because of the computing power it takes to mine coins, but Gogerty says that SolarCoin is 50 times more energy-efficient because its algorithm allows the total number of coins to be mined faster – and that's before factoring in the energy boost from new solar panels.

If SolarCoin succeeds, the model could even be applied to other environmental projects, such as conserving the rainforest or endangered species. "If someone can come up with the mechanism and the approach, it would be a great thing," says Gogerty.<

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Renewable energy use at record high

Renewable energy use at record high | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

Via Organic Social Media
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Organic Social Media's curator insight, December 30, 2013 8:12 AM
#Renewable #energy use at record high in Scotland #sustainability
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Kinder Morgan files for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to triple capacity

Kinder Morgan files for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to triple capacity | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
A second pipeline proposal to transport oil to Asia was officially launched on Monday when Kinder Morgan filed a project application for its $5.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>The project would nearly triple oil capacity to 890,000 barrels annually and bring about 400 more tankers a year into Burrard Inlet (up from about 80) if it is approved by the National Energy Board and subsequently by the federal government.

The 1,150-kilometre pipeline will carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands, starting in Edmonton, through Jasper and across B.C. to the company’s Westbridge Terminal in Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan says nearly three-quarters of the proposed expanded pipeline’s length across most of the province will follow the existing right-of-way where the pipeline was first built in the 1950s. About 17 per cent of the route, and virtually all the way through the Lower Mainland west of Fort Langley, will deviate from the current line, but would follow other existing utility corridors or infrastructure.

Kinder Morgan is promising enhanced tanker safety in its more-than-15,000-page submission, and says it is continuing discussions with First Nations, whose support is critical to large infrastructure development projects in B.C.

The twinning of Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline has already seen years of pushback from First Nations, environmentalists and community groups concerned about the potential for spills along the pipeline and from tankers. Both Vancouver and Burnaby’s city councils have voiced opposition to the project.

The project would create about 90 permanent jobs, and employ 4,500 people at the peak of construction.<



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Critical lack of long-term radioactive waste storage as Japan finalizes energy policy

Critical lack of long-term radioactive waste storage as Japan finalizes energy policy | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The United States' top nuclear regulator said Friday that atomic energy users, including Japan, must figure out how to ultimately store radioactive waste.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>Japan has no final waste repository, not even a potential site. The U.S. government's plan for building a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been halted by strong local opposition due to safety concerns.

"In the nuclear community, we of course have to face the reality of the end product -- spent fuel," Macfarlane told reporters.

She urged countries that are contemplating or embarking on a nuclear power program to formulate back-end plans at an early stage.

The new policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-nuclear government is pushing to restart as many reactors as possible if deemed safe under the new, stricter safety standards that took effect this past summer. The new policy, whose draft was discussed Friday by a government panel, is also expected to stick to Japan's shaky fuel cycle program despite international concerns about the country's massive plutonium stockpile.

Japan is stuck with 44 tons of plutonium at home and overseas after unsuccessfully pushing to establish a fuel cycle, with its fast breeder reactor and a reprocessing plant never fully operated. Experts say Japan's plutonium stockpile poses a nuclear security threat and raises questions over whether Japan plans to develop a nuclear weapon, which Tokyo denies.

Japan also has more than 14,000 tons of spent fuel in cooling pools at its 50 reactors, all of which are offline. Some pools are expected to be full in several years, and are expected to be moved to a dry cask facility just completed in northern Japan.<




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"Personal Wipes" create toxic waste in Canadian sewers

"Personal Wipes" create toxic waste in Canadian sewers | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
They're billed as a fresh, clean alternative to toilet paper - but waste-water utilities across Canada say personal wipes are creating putrid sewage clogs that are costing Canadian ratepayers at least $250 million a year.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>MESUG members have set up traps across Ontario municipalities, Orr said, and they’re catching hundreds of flushable wipes. The situation is the same across the country, with officials in Penticton, B.C., recently complaining publicly about the wipes.

Canadian utilities aren’t alone in their battle against personal wipes.

In the U.S. capital region, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has spent more than $1 million installing powerful grinders to shred wipes before they reach pumps on their way to treatment plants.

The utility has also devoted hundreds of man-hours to unclog pipes and repair broken sewer lines. It blames wipes for blockages that have caused sewage to overflow into streams or back up into residential basements.<

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UK Renewable Energy Subsidy Underwrites Development

UK Renewable Energy Subsidy Underwrites Development | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Energy secretary, Ed Davey, says new subsidy scheme will help underwrite green energy and reduce reliance on imported gas
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] “Solar has been the rising star in the coalition’s renewable energy programme and has been championed recently by the Prime Minister at the UN and by Ministers at conference,” said Paul Barwell, chief executive of the STA.

“Why is the UK government putting this industry’s incredible achievements on solar power at risk? To curtail its growth now is just perverse and unjustified on budgetary grounds - solar has only consumed around 1% of the renewables obligation budget,” he added.

He was supported by Friends of the Earth, whose renewable energy campaigner, Alasdair Cameron, argued the government move would be bad news for jobs, the climate and people wanting to plug into clean power.

“Solar could be cheaper than fossil fuels in just a few years, but it needs a little more help from government to get it there. Failure to invest now will mean a huge missed opportunity for the UK economy,” he said.

The raised budget to £300m has been welcomed by the wider renewable power sector but industry officials said the complex structure and cost would unfairly benefit large utilities at the expense of smaller and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). [...]"<

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California Real Estate Assn' Educates Members on Building Energy Performance & Benchmarking

California Real Estate Assn' Educates Members on Building Energy Performance & Benchmarking | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
In California, brokers are at the heart of every non-residential sale or lease. Can the AIR organization get them on board with benchmarking?
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Commercial buildings are some of California's largest energy- and water-guzzlers. With 58 percent of the state locked in the highest category of drought, many commercial property owners are seeing increased utility bills, and with a new building energy benchmarking and disclosure law on the books, building owners seek energy efficiency solutions as a common-sense way to ease some of the pressure. One key trade association in California, the AIR Commercial Real Estate Association, is taking the lead by educating its members on the benefits of energy efficiency.

AIR, founded in 1960, is a regional commercial real estate brokers association with more than 1,700 members across southern California, and is one of the nation's largest organizations of its kind. It's recognized across the U.S. for its ever-expanding library of sample lease forms, which members use to stay updated on industry and lease language trends — several of which now include sustainability. When California's energy benchmarking law, AB 1103, went into effect in January, AIR responded by creating sample energy disclosure lease and sale addenda (PDF) and began educating its members on these new tools.

Brokers are in the thick of it

The law states that any time a non-residential building owner finances, sells or leases a whole building, the property owner is required to use Energy Star portfolio manager to benchmark the building and provide the Energy Star rating and supporting consumption information to the lender, buyer or tenant in the transaction. As brokers are central to every aspect of a commercial transaction, their participation is essential for the law to have its intended effect. AIR's lease and sale addenda effectively address these energy disclosure requirements in one document, providing real estate professionals, building owners, tenants and attorneys with a framework template for compliance with the regulation.

Brokers hold the key to increasing stakeholder awareness, potentially boosting compliance rates, benchmarking data quality and ultimately better building performance and energy management — and educating the community about new regulations and tools is essential to unlocking this potential."<

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Cost Effective 'net zero' energy in Jerseyville, Illinois subdivision

Cost Effective 'net zero' energy in Jerseyville, Illinois subdivision | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Construction of Lexington Farms, an affordable housing project of rental homes, began last summer. Residents began arriving in December.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Rooftop solar panels and wind turbines mounted over garages power all 32 homes at Lexington Farms, a new Jerseyville subdivision designed to provide residents no-cost electricity.

[...]

"Over the course of a year the solar array and wind turbines provide all the energy needed to power heating and air-conditioning systems, along with other household electricity needs," said Jeff Lewis, president of MidAmerica Solar. "While similar technology has been used in homes, it hasn't been done on this scale in an entire subdivision."

[...]

 

Each home can produce up to 7.2 kilowatts of energy from roof-mounted solar panels.

Wind turbines mounted on masts over garages provide up to 1 kilowatt of additional energy. Lewis said tests were conducted to make sure the turbines' vibrations were so slight as to be unnoticed by the homes' occupants.

Ground-mounted solar panels at the subdivision's entrance generate power for the community center.

Lexington Farms' three-bedroom homes rent for $590 per month to families with incomes of $41,000 or less. The houses have central air conditioning, heat, hot water and other appliances that are powered by electricity generated by the solar panels and wind turbines.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority provided more than $2.5 million in assistance for the project, including federal low-income housing tax credits and federal stimulus money. Funding also came from a $260,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity and financing from Sterling Bank.

Included in the project are 16 streetlights that operate entirely off the electrical grid.

The streetlights, made by MidAmerica Solar, have their own wind turbines and solar panels that provide electricity to energy-efficient LED lights and a backup battery. The lights used to come from China. Now they come from a small factory in Affton."<

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Two Waste to Energy Gasification Plants Secure $50m Finance in Western Australia

"Australian renewable energy investment firm, Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has agreed provide up to AU$50 million ($47 million) in senior debt finance for the development of two waste to energy facilities that will use low temperature gasification in Western Australia."

Duane Tilden's insight:

>"According to CEFC CEO, Oliver Yates waste management has been a growing issue in Australia for all levels of government and with recycling rates remaining fairly constant, the country will need to seek solutions to its increasing dependence on landfill.

[...]

The company added that the facilities will generate cost competitive, base load energy and a lower emissions outcome than current grid electricity sources.

The investor also noted that while both projects will be eligible for Australian Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the majority of the energy produced, their financial viability is not reliant on RECs.

The investment is also expected to help to encourage further waste to energy facilities across the country and facilitate access to private sector funding for similar projects in the future which divert waste from landfills, increase recycling rates, recover energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CEFC said that its finance for the New Energy facilities takes its total investment in waste-to-energy projects to over $150 million, and that it has another $280 million of waste to energy proposals in its project pipeline that would unlock a further $1.0 billion in additional finance.

Technology

According to New Energy, its low temperature gasification process ‘cooks’ waste over a 16 to 24 hour period at temperatures of between 600°C and 875°C during which small amounts of air and steam are introduced.

This is said to break the molecules in the waste which are converted into a syngas that contains molecules such as methane with a high energy content.

The syngas is combusted to heat water and produce steam, either for use as either heat or for electrical generation. This secondary oxidation stage is said convert the syngas into water vapour and carbon dioxide.

The exhaust gases are cleaned and filtered, which the company said to neutralises acidic gases such as sulphur dioxide, as well as particulates and heavy metals. It is then released to the atmosphere."<

 

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Fracking linked to BC's liquefied natural gas gambit

Fracking linked to BC's liquefied natural gas gambit | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
A surplus of natural gas in North America explains why the B.C. government is so desperate to launch a new industry
Duane Tilden's insight:

>“The prices that the [B.C.] government is looking at in paving the roads with gold is basically based on these short-term factors that are not likely to persist,” Lee said.

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman did not make himself available for an interview to respond to Lee’s comments.

B.C. misread U.S. energy revolution

The B.C. government missed the mark with its earlier forecasts on royalties because it failed to predict an explosion in U.S. energy production.

This largely came about through hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking”, and horizontal drilling. Technological innovations in fracking generated huge new supplies, causing North American natural-gas prices to plummet.

The falling prices resulted in fewer royalties flowing into the B.C. government treasury.

Fracking involves pumping huge amounts of water along with sand and chemicals into shale-rock formations to free trapped gas.

Horizontal drilling enables companies to retrieve locked supplies by moving the drill bit across a deposit rather than going straight down.

A single platform can send horizontal drills in a multitude of directions, enhancing efficiency and saving money.

In his 2013 book, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters (Penguin), Gregory Zuckerman chronicled how a handful of U.S. energy-industry outcasts refined these techniques and caused an American energy revolution.

“To me, it’s fascinating that this resurgence started in 2007 and 2008, which is right when America was sort of on its back,” he told the Straight by phone.

Zuckerman, a Wall Street Journal reporter, said that the United States is now producing about eight million barrels of oil per day, up from five million barrels per day in 2008.

In addition, U.S. natural-gas production rose more than 21 percent between 2008 and 2013.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has predicted that the U.S. will be energy self-sufficient by 2020.

The Frackers reveals that the people who spearheaded this sharp increase in energy production were not working for major oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, or Chevron.

Rather, they were an assortment of little-known wildcatters from Texas and Oklahoma—George Mitchell, Aubrey McClendon, Tom Ward, and Harold Hamm—who became billionaires as a result.

They crisscrossed areas with shale reserves, buying drilling rights from property owners. Although there has been a lot of howling from environmentalists about the contamination of water supplies with fracking chemicals, the industry continues to grow.

“Everyone focuses on fracking—and fracking is key, as is horizontal drilling—but the most important thing is that innovators like Mitchell got it to work in shale, which everyone kind of ignored, especially the big guys and the experts,” Zuckerman said.

By targeting shale, Zuckerman maintained, Mitchell changed the country and the world.

That’s because manufacturers with high natural-gas input costs—such as makers of chemicals, tires, cement, and aluminum—are basing operations in the United States because of the low natural-gas prices. And Zuckerman said that this will give the U.S. a competitive advantage against other countries for years to come.

“Some economists say as many as two million jobs are going to be created,” he stated.<

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How Cold Weather Affects Fuel Consumption

How Cold Weather Affects Fuel Consumption | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
If there’s one thing Canadians know how to do, it’s drive in the winter. But did you know it’s a sci...
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Expect to use more fuel in the winter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that a drop in temperature from 24°C to 7°C increased fuel consumption in urban commutes by 12 to 28 percent for eight different vehicles tested. For a vehicle that typically achieves a 500 km range on a full tank of fuel, this represents a loss of 60 to 140 km per fill-up during the winter months.

• Aerodynamic resistance is greater in the winter. Cold, dry, winter air is about 12 percent denser than warm, humid, summer air, increasing highway fuel consumption by about 1.3 percent in the winter. The average wind speed is also higher in the winter, which contributes to increased aerodynamic resistance and fuel consumption.

• Winter roads create difficult driving conditions. With increased asphalt deterioration and a mix of snow, ice, slush, water, salt, gravel and sand, Canadian roads can be pretty awful in winter and harder to manage. Your vehicle’s engine works harder to offset the increased rolling resistance, as your tires have to work to push aside heavy snow and road cover. The snow and ice also increase wheel slippage, which results in higher fuel consumption.

• Winter gas normally has lower energy density. Gasoline composition is seasonally and geographically adjusted based on historical temperature data. A litre of winter gas has less energy content than a litre of summer gas, typically in the range of 1.5 to three percent.

• Winter driving taxes a vehicle’s electrical system. Except for air conditioning, your vehicle’s electrical loads are normally higher in cold weather due to greater demand from heating, defrosting, head lights and interior lights, heated seats, heated mirrors and increased use of the windshield washer pump. The energy for these electrical loads is provided by the vehicle’s electrical system, which obtains power from the engine."<

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Exxon's CEO Rex Tillerson NIMBY fracking lawsuit in Texas - WSJ

Exxon's CEO Rex Tillerson NIMBY fracking lawsuit in Texas - WSJ | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
In a wealthy Dallas suburb, some residents are complaining about the noise and traffic that would result from a water tower used for fracking. One of the tower's critics is Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"He and his neighbors had filed suit to block the tower, saying it is illegal and would create "a noise nuisance and traffic hazards," in part because it would provide water for use in hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, which requires heavy trucks to haul and pump massive amounts of water, unlocks oil and gas from dense rock and has helped touch off a surge in U.S. energy output.

It also is a core part of Exxon's business.

Rex Tillerson

While the lawsuit Mr. Tillerson joined cites the side effects of fracking, a lawyer representing the Exxon CEO said he hadn't complained about such disturbances. "I have other clients who were concerned about the potential for noise and traffic problems, but he's never expressed that to me or anyone else," said Michael Whitten, who runs a small law practice in Denton, Texas. Mr. Whitten said Mr. Tillerson's primary concern is that his property value would be harmed.

An Exxon spokesman said Mr. Tillerson declined to comment. The company "has no involvement in the legal matter" and its directors weren't told of Mr. Tillerson's participation, the spokesman said.

The dispute over the 160-foot water tower goes beyond possible nuisances related to fracking. Among the issues raised: whether a water utility has to obey local zoning ordinances and what are the rights of residents who relied on such laws in making multi-million-dollar property investments. The latter point was the focus of Mr. Tillerson's comments at the November council meeting."<

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Evidence Suggests Nuclear Powered Core Provides 50% of Earth's Heat Energy

Evidence Suggests Nuclear Powered Core Provides 50% of Earth's Heat Energy | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Geoneutrino detector probes deep into the Earth
Duane Tilden's insight:

"About 50% of the heat given off by the Earth is generated by the radioactive decay of elements such as uranium and thorium, and their decay products. That is the conclusion of an international team of physicists that has used the KamLAND detector in Japan to measure the flux of antineutrinos emanating from deep within the Earth. The result, which agrees with previous calculations of the radioactive heating, should help physicists to improve models of how heat is generated in the Earth.

Geophysicists believe that heat flows from Earth's interior into space at a rate of about 44 × 1012 W (TW). What is not clear, however, is how much of this heat is primordial – left over from the formation of the Earth – and how much is generated by radioactive decay.

[...]

One possibility that has been mooted in the past is that a natural nuclear reactor exists deep within the Earth and produces heat via a fission chain reaction. Data from KamLAND and Borexino do not rule out the possibility of such an underground reactor but place upper limits on how much heat could be produced by the reactor deep, if it exists. KamLAND sets this limit at about 5 TW, while Borexino puts it at about 3 TW."

 
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Solar Geoengineering: Blocking the Sun’s Rays

Solar Geoengineering: Blocking the Sun’s Rays | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
With prominent scientists now calling for experiments to test whether pumping sulfates into the atmosphere could safely counteract global warming, critics worry that the world community may be moving a step closer to deploying this controversial...
Duane Tilden's insight:

>Now some scientists are thinking about replicating Mount Pinatubo’s dramatic cooling power by intentionally spewing sulfates into the atmosphere to counteract global warming. Studies have shown that such a strategy would be powerful, feasible, fast-acting, and cheap, capable in principle of reversing all of the expected worst-case warming over the next century or longer, all the while increasing plant productivity. Harvard University physicist David Keith, one of the world’s most vocal advocates of serious research into such a scheme, calls it "a cheap tool that could green the world." In the face of anticipated rapid climate change,  [...]


University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert has called the scheme "barking mad." Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki has dismissed it as "insane." Protestors have stopped even harmless, small-scale field experiments that aim to explore the idea. And Keith has received a couple of death threats from the fringe of the environmentalist community. 

Clearly, there are good reasons for concern. Solar geoengineering would likely make the planet drier, potentially disrupting monsoons in places like India and creating drought in parts of the tropics. The technique could help eat away the protective ozone shield of our planet, and it would cause air pollution. [...]


As Keith himself summarizes, "Solar geoengineering is an extraordinarily powerful tool. But it is also dangerous." 

Studies have shown that solar radiation management could be accomplished and that it would cool the planet. Last fall, Keith published a book, A Case for Climate Engineering, that lays out the practicalities of such a scheme. A fleet of ten Gulfstream jets could be used to annually inject 25,000 tons of sulfur — as finely dispersed sulfuric acid, for example — into the lower stratosphere. That would be ramped up to a million tons of sulfur per year by 2070, in order to counter about half of the world’s warming from greenhouse gases. The idea is to combine such a scheme with emissions cuts, and keep it running for about twice as long as it takes for CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to level out. 

Under Keith’s projections, a world that would have warmed 2 degrees C by century’s end would instead warm 1 degree C. Keith says his "moderate, temporary" plan would help to avoid many of the problems associated with full-throttle solar geoengineering schemes that aim to counteract all of the planet’s warming, while reducing the cost of adapting to rapid climate change. He estimates this scheme would cost about $700 million annually — less than 1 percent of what is currently spent on clean energy development. If such relatively modest cost projections prove to be accurate, some individual countries could deploy solar geoengineering technologies without international agreement. <
 


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Obama may put off Keystone XL decision due to conflict of interest claims

Obama may put off Keystone XL decision due to conflict of interest claims | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Jenny Uechi With U.S. Democrats suggesting a restart on the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama may further delay his decision on the project, which the House approved to build last summer.Twenty-five House Democrats,...
Duane Tilden's insight:

>With U.S. Democrats suggesting a restart on the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama may further delay his decision on the project, which the House approved to build last summer.

Twenty-five House Democrats, led by Arizona Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, signed a letter earlier this month, urging President Obama to delay the release of a final environmental review on the $9 billion pipeline. If the review process is redone, the pipeline decision could be delayed by another few years, possibly even as late as the end of Obama's term in 2017.

The letter criticizes the the U.S.State Department for releasing a draft environmental study in March by consulting firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which was later revealed to be a member of the pro-Keystone XL and pro-oil American Petroleum Institute.

The report was mainly favourable toward the pipeline, saying Keystone XL wouldn’t have a significant impact on climate change. President Obama saidlast summer that the pipeline would not be in the national interest if it exacerbated the problem of carbon pollution, and that climate change impact was a critical deciding factor in his final decision on Keystone XL. 

“It would be unwise and premature for State to release a study prepared by Environmental Resources Management while it remains under investigation for lying to federal officials about its business connections and practices,” read the letter. Although the final environmental study is due early next year, critics say the review should be pushed back much further.<

 

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Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013: Lessons Learned

Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013: Lessons Learned | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
As we come into the final stretch of 2013, my annual model portfolio of Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013 looks certain to break its five year winning streak of beating its industry benchmark.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>Story Stocks

The big stories of 2013 were Elon Musk's Tesla Motors (NASD:TSLA) and Solar City (NASD:SCTY), up 306 percent and 350 percent respectively.  As a value-focused contrarian investor, I've long known that there will be many years when story stocks outperform, but they also have a tendency to fall rapidly from their peaks.  Tesla has already fallen 30 percent from its peak over the last two months.  A contrarian eschews such spectacular gains in order to avoid the rapid declines that come to such story stocks on the slightest bit of bad news.  

Even if 2014 were to be another year led by other story stocks, I would not consider that reason to abandon my contrarian strategy.  Missing the rapid rise of stock you don't own is not a loss, although it may feel like it to people who focus overmuch on the headlines.  If holding a contrarian investing stance were emotionally easy, everyone would be doing it.<

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UN and World Bank promote sustainable energy financing

UN and World Bank promote sustainable energy financing | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

The United Nations and the World Bank announced what they call "a concerted effort" by governments, international agencies, civil society and the private sector to scale up financing for sustainable energy. 

 
Duane Tilden's insight:

>Kim stressed that financing is key, with $600 billion to $800 billion a year needed from now until 2030 to reach the goals for access to energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

“We are now starting in countries in which demand for action is most urgent,” he said. “In some of these countries, only one in 10 people has access to electricity. It is time for that to change.”

Ban praised achievements already attained such as Brazil’s ‘Light for All’ programme that has reached 15 million people, Norway’s commitment of 2 billion kroner ($330 million) in 2014 for global renewable energy and efficiency, and Bank of America’s Green Bond that has raised $500 million for three years as part of its 10-year $50 billion environmental business commitment.<

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