In Spite of the Fossil Fuel Industry Push for More Filthy Fuel, California Completes One Gigawatt of Solar Power

Kudo’s to California. Despite adversity from the deep pockets of the fossil fuel industry out to stall progress for a sustainable energy future, California completed the installation of one gigawatt of solar power capable of powering 750,000 homes the equivalent of 2 coalburners.

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/11/11/california-now-has-1-gigawatt-of-solar-power-installed/

 

 

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Check Out China’s New Environmental Bus

China has a new transportation idea, a bus that small cars can pass through underneath. An article on chinahush.com states: “Powered by electricity and solar energy, the bus can speed up to 60 km/h carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time without blocking other vehicles’ way. Also it costs about 500 million yuan to build the bus and a 40-km-long path for it, only 10% of building equivalent subway. It is said that the bus can reduce traffic jams by 20-30%.” Also, according to Engadget, “Construction of the first 115 miles of track will begin in Beijing’s Mentougou district at the end of 2010.”

Our answer to this: “Despite greater awareness about vehicle emissions and spikes in gasoline prices, Census figures show fewer people carpooling than 30 years ago.”

http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20100805/NEWS05/
100805033/Carpooling-down-even-with-green-awareness-up
.

Huff Post has a slide show of China’s bus, its proposed rail system and stations. A really cool invention here! Check it out.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/02/3d-express-coach-pictures_n_667452.html#s121541.

http://www.chinahush.com/2010/07/31/straddling-bus-a-cheaper-greener-and-faster-alternative-to-commute/.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/02/china-to-build-ginormous-buses-that-cars-can-drive-under-video/

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Project Frog Building Systems for the Future

I caught a small segment of an Anderson Cooper 360 show that highlighted the first energy efficient building in New England. It’s also the only independent school in Hartford Connecticut. Watkinson School – Center for Science and Global Studies is a Project Frog design. Project Frog’s website states it “makes the most technologically advanced, energy-efficient building systems on the planet. Employing innovative clean technology across the construction spectrum.” I was impressed, but than again I’ve always been in the modern, contemporary mode, what is Project Frog’s style.

Watkinson School needed a new building and fast. So in keeping with the theme of science and global studies that surely covers global climate change, the school went with Project Frog’s building plans/concepts, and 7 months later the school was ready. It leaves no carbon footprint and cost far less to run than a conventional building.

Check out the segment I saw on CNN and Project Frog’s website for more information. To me this looks like the way to go for charter Schools, new office buildings, retail, and hopefully homes of the future. And the biggest news here, it’s cheaper than standard building structures. Project Frog’s website lists the qualities of it’s buildings:

BETTER
Healthier-low VOC, high air quality, abundant daylight
Higher Quality-engineered, factory built, premium materials
Safer-2008 IBC, zone 4 seismic, 110+mph wind
GREENER
Materials-high recycled content
Operations-50-70% less consumption
Waste Reduction-near zero on site construction waste
FASTER
Purchase-single integrated point of purchase
Permit-weeks not months
Build-5X faster than traditional construction
CHEAPER
Purchase-25-40% less first cost
Operate-50-75% less operational cost
Recycle-100% recycle potential

I think we’re going to hear a whole lot more about Project Frog. Finally a company that presents a win, win situation for new building construction. Oh forgot to include that local contractors put up the buildings too.

Watch the video

Read more about Project Frog: http://www.projectfrog.com/company/aboutus.

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Governor’s Urge Congress for National Renewable Portfolio Standards

A bipartisan group of 29 governors across America called the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition is urging congress for National Renewable Portfolio Standards “to provide a minimum 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal and biopower, by 2012. Over half of the states in the nation already have enacted some form of renewable electricity standard,” according to an article on ENS.

Iowa governor Chet Culver (D) is the Coalition’s chairperson, and Rhode Island’s governor Donald Carcieri (R) is the co-chair. Governor Culver would like to see a “national renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2025, which he says could create more than 300,000 green jobs.” The governors just released “Great Expectations: U.S. Wind Energy Development, the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition’s 2010 Recommendations.” According to the same article the recommendations urge Congress to:

Adopt a Renewable Electricity Standard.

Develop new interstate electric transmission system infrastructure as needed to provide access to premier renewable energy resources both onshore and offshore.

Fully support coastal, deep water, and offshore wind energy technology and transmission research and development.

Streamline permitting processes for both offshore and onshore wind energy development projects.

Expand the U.S. Department of Energy’s work with the states and the wind industry to accelerate innovation.

Extend the Treasury Department Grant Program in Lieu of the Investment Tax Credit, and adopt a long-term renewable energy production tax credit with provisions to broaden the pool of eligible investors.
The article has a lot of information in it. The governor’s involved have experience from their own state’s success with alternative energy. The best thing if this is enacted is that “actual transmission investment should flow from successful renewable power projects that can offer to purchasers the lowest delivered price of power for their product.” Yessss.

This push by governors is a thumb’s up for energy reform. After reading this it doesn’t appear the commercials on TV about energy reform raising taxes on the middle class hold water. Especially when the governor’s cited, “42 percent of all new power plants installed in the nation in 2008 are powered by wind.” So almost half of new U.S. power plants are already independent of fossil fuel.

The governors also addressed the cost of a national renewable energy system for interstate transmission “estimated to [to be] on the order of $75 to $100 billion to support economic power transfers and meet the 20 percent of renewable energy standard.” The governors’ report stated, “This investment can be obtained from the private sector, since current investments in transmission throughout the nation are now in the range of $5 billion to $10 billion a year from private sources.” Hmmm?

Read it:http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2010/2010-03-16-02.html.

http://www.governorswindenergycoalition.org/.

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New Urbanism; the Most Important Green Trend for 2010

I happened across Original Green’s website and spotted an article “The Green Top 10 for 2010″ relative to issues about sustainability. The trends described come from Steve Mouzon, a new urbanist architect that see his predictions coming to fruition over the next decade. They are in New Year’s countdown mode starting with:

# 10 Offshoring Reversal

There will be more interest in not only buying American but buying local as fuel costs make shipping products thousands of miles less cost effective as producing it ourselves.

# 9 The Sustainability of Preservation

Saving a building is in essence saving the environment as one headline of this article
stated: “The greenest brick is the one that’s already in the wall.” There is a trend to develop a viable method to “factor in the true value of preservation, both within the U.S. Building Council and elsewhere, because how can we say that we’re being green if we keep throwing buildings away?”

Another headline here is that GE targets net zero energy homes by 2015. These homes will sport photovoltaic sources, and windto produce energy. There will be efficient lighting, and on demand appliances, a place for energy storage, water filtration systems, a heat pump water heater utilizing the geothermal heat pumps that also contribute energy to the home. All is controlled through a master energy manager control panel and monitored with a smart meter for the home’s input/output to a smart grid.

#8 Gizmo Green Gets Exposed

This trend stems from the realization that going green is expensive and what with the economy the way it is, greening up homes to lower utility costs probably won’t happen as quickly as returning to passive heating and cooling methods.

If you’ve kept up with my blogs, I’ve blogged more than once that even on the coldest days in the winter if the sun is out in full, I shut off my main heat, open my blinds to 12 ft. of southern exposed windows, as well as, my front door. The sun warms the entire front of my house! That’s passive heating. In the summer we utilize 2 overhead fans, awnings, and shades to keep cool without a/c. Block the sun, and you will usually block the heat. True passive cooling would only use natural breezes, but my overhead fans use far less power than a/c.

#7 The Meltdown Vacuum

Because the construction industry and all related industries took a hit during this economy, overdevelopment of strip malls and subdivisions has stopped. What the arrested economy and construction business really did was bolster the courage of do it yourself homeowners. The advent of more and more do it yourself cable shows for home improvement wannabes unleashed a grassroots construction industry that is expected to keep growing.

#6 A Return to Gardening

Gardening is a real no brainer for anyone who cooks every night and wants to be economical and healthy. Usually people who would have a garden are also people who eat crops du jour “of the day.” Whatever is ripe is what is eaten that evening. By eating seasonal crops and buying locally when weather doesn’t permit a garden, we get a greater variety of natural vitamins and minerals, and many times without the pesticide problem. It’s cheaper, healthier, and easier to have a garden no matter how small. Believe me, I hate paying $3 for a bunch of fresh basil for a recipe when in the summer… Home gardening looks to increase everywhere even in urban landscapes.

#5 The ReCoding of a City

This trend reverses urban sprawl where going just about anywhere, to a convenience store, or the doctor’s office requires riding in a vehicle. The zoning code that works to reverse urban sprawl and concentrate people in cityscapes again is called the “Smart Code.” As the article states: “2010 looks like it might be the year that’s the tipping point with cities choosing this very smart way to reverse the tide of sprawl and make green cities possible.”

#4 The Return of Durability

Another no-brainer for me. In this post-melt-down economy people will return to buying better and more durable products to avoid tossing and buying new again because they simply can’t afford it. The article says: “High consumption is unsustainable.” Could our bulging trash dumps be an indicator?

#3 The Emergence of the Live-Work

We will either be working from home via the Internet or walking to work because the office is in the neighborhood once again, at least close enough to get there without the use of a car.

#2 The Big Convergence

There are three major components that mark this era happening right now, “the Meltdown, Peak Oil, and Climate Change.” This economic downturn ruined people. It was truly an economic meltdown. We know that oil has indeed peaked in production and is a finite source that will not last forever. And finally, climate change reality may be taking a back seat to economic suffering now but the “convergence” of all three of these things has created quite a movement, and an opportunity to return to what Mouzon calls “a Golden Age… something that would have been impossible in our previous sprawling, over-consuming, debt-ridden condition.”

#1 The New City

This is the top trend. It’s really a return to the old urban neighborhood where you walked to work, shops, school, clinics, and church. Entertainment and restaurants are within easy reach too. The only twist is that the rooftops of urban buildings will more than likely sport solar panels and wind turbines while grass and trees replace tarry surfaces. And anywhere there is available space to contain earth material a garden will grow.

Read the whole article: http://www.originalgreen.org/OG/Blog/Entries/2009/12/29_the_Green_Top_10_for_2010.html.

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Rep to Introduce Legislation in MI House to Allow Loans to Citizens by Local Governments for Renewable Energy Devices

According to a blog on Michigan Liberal and a brief article on MLive.com, Representative Joel Sheltrown of West Branch planned to introduce legislation in the MI House today that would “allow local units of government to issue bonds to provide for loans to homeowners and businesses located within their jurisdiction for renewable energy production and energy efficiency improvements.” The bill concentrates on sun, wind, and geothermal energy production. And energy efficiency improvements include federal Energy Star qualifying improvements affixed to the structure.
Important points about the bill:

  • It’s voluntary. The decision to issue loans is up to local governments
  • The process for distributing loans under the bonds is also left to the local unit of government
  • The loans would not exceed a 20-year re-payment period
  • The interest rate on the loans would not be more than 0.5% higher than the interest rate on the bond.
  • The loan is qualified through the property rather than the owner’s credit rating
  • Repayment of the loan would be made through winter and summer property taxes and would remain with the property in the event of a sale.
  • The loan is qualified through the property not the owner’s credit rating so that more homeowner’s and businesses would qualify.
  • Homeowner’s and businesses would perform more energy improvements.
  • Property owners would generate their own renewable energy
  • The need for manufacturing, service, contracting, and building jobs in the green sector would increase from demand.
  • This bill does not impact the state as far as money because the only caveat for property owners—no state tax credit for any of this. And the loan programs are not dependent on state budget support.

This bill could lead to property owner’s earning a percentage of all excess energy they produce beyond their own needs, as it should be. It’s one heck of an incentive to move forward on renewable energy. Germany has a solar program that is similar. The government offers cash incentives for solar or wind devices. Property owners earn a percentage of what they produce. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2007/10/germany-jump-starts-alternative-energy-push/.

 
Imagine getting money back for energy instead of paying a recurring monthly bill that restricts us from being as cool as we would like or as warm? Conservation spurs innovation. No one likes to cut back do they? We do so out of conscience. But if someone comes up with a way around it, we’re in.

Read the whole blog by Brady about the new House Bill: http://www.michiganliberal.com/diary/15764/sheltrown-to-introduce-michlib-green-energy-legislation.
http://www.mlive.com/mudpuppy/index.ssf/2009/11/michigan_rep_joel_sheltrown_to.html.

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Texas Now Has World’s Largest Wind Farm

E.ON Climate and Renewables announced its completion of a 781.5 MW wind complex called “Roscoe,” according to an article on Treehugger and it’s the largest in the world. Roscoe is expected to generate enough power for 230,000 homes. It covers 100,000 acres over 4 counties, has 500 workers, involves more than 300 landowners, and cost $1 billion.

E.ON is forging ahead. The company has begun construction on an offshore wind complex called the “London Array.” The first phase of this offshore wind farm will be 630MW making it also the world’s largest offshore wind production center.

Read More:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/worlds-largest-wind-farm-completed-texas-eon-renewables.php?dcitc=PESWiki.

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Green Inspiration from a Third World Country

I caught the end of Good Morning America today and a young man from Malawi was being interviewed about his project and ensuing book,
The Boy That Harnessed the Wind. This teen from a third world country had the drive and tenacity to built a windmill from junk laying around like old wagon parts, wood, plastic, metal, even an old flip-flop was made useful. It’s quite an inspiring story.

William Kamkwamba lived such a poverty stricken life his parents at one point could not afford the $80.00 annual tuition for school. He was determined to keep up with his own education and according to the interview on GMA he absorbed a physics book and a book about constructing a basic windmill and applied what he learned. An engineer was born. William constructed a tall windmill from “what not” found laying around in the yards where he lives.

In the meantime everyone in the village thought William was crazy. They still had a tendency to believe in magic. Imagine what they thought when William’s windmill lit up a light bulb?

Flash forward and William is on Good Morning America. He has a book about how he did it. And the people of the village use the power from his windmill as a cheap way to recharge their cell phones. I figure William will not only get to go to high school at this point but will surely make it through college too.

Read the article and an excerpt on ABC New’s website: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books/read-excerpt-boy-harnessed-wind-william-kamkwamba-bryan/story?id=8671370.

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China and U.S. Partnership for Clean Energy Research

Right after I read about Baoding China being the first city to go really green in China, I also found this article about the U.S. and China partnering for clean energy research. The article on ABC New’s website stated this effort is a compromise between the two governments that disagree on whether China should join wealthier nations in cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/WireStory?id=8085845&page=1.

According to the article: “With initial financing of $15 million and headquarters in both countries, the center will focus on coal and clean buildings and vehicles, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. It highlights potential U.S.-Chinese cooperation in an industry that Washington says could create thousands of jobs.” It certainly garnered thousands of jobs for Baoding China.

Oddly, I happened to catch the Emmy nominated interview between Fareed Zakaria of CNN and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday about the same time. Wen offered insight as to why China does not respond to the rest of the world’s assertion that they are a super power and should be more proactive and involved politically around the world. Wen said China is not a super power by any means. He said although China is moving fast with their economy and social reform, there are far more rural areas that are below par compared to China’s major cities.

And while we see China as communist, Wen seemed to describe China as more socialist/capitalist—think Hong Kong here. Fareed asked if Wen thought socialism could support a free market system? Wen explained there are visible workings of a free market and the invisible. The best scenario is a balanced free market through guidance and regulation by government. Wen sighted the book A Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith as an ideal. It is considered the first modern work of economics and Smith is considered to be the father of modern economics. A central belief of Smith is that labor is the measure of a nation’s wealth not it’s stores of gold and silver. Sound’s like China.

Both countries are hoping to avoid trade barriers by working together. The article stated: “China is promoting solar, wind and hydroelectric power to reduce reliance on imported oil and gas, which its communist leaders see as a strategic weakness. But Beijing has rejected binding emissions commitments, saying it is the responsibility of rich countries to cut their own output.” Again, they do not view themselves as a super power.

The whole time Wen was talking so candidly about the future, he made sense, and actually seemed charming. China will certainly be promoting a much greener economy since this interview took place before the breaking story about Baoding China’s resourceful turnaround from an auto and manufacturing center to a major supplier of solar and green tech products. This puts China is a position ahead of us already, super power or not. We’re still haggling over whether a turnaround away from polluting industry to a green driven economy will work, while China did it and knows that it not only works, but is also high profitable. It creates those better than gold jobs.

However, as smart and innocent as Wen appeared to be in the interview, and as I found myself agreeing with him on certain assertions about trade, and labor, the mantra going on in my mind was Tibet, Tibet, Tibet. Look what China did and continues to do to those innocent and wonderful people and the pristine land they maintained for centuries high in the Himalayas. China will surely pollute that area too. Fareed addressed Tibetan issues in this interview also and the answer was still pretty hard-line. On top of Tibet, what about China’s attempts to march on Taiwan as it has so many times before?

The interview is a good look at how China thinks. Fareed began the interview with Wen by asking how the Chinese feel about the state of the U.S. economy considering we owe China so much money. It was the million-dollar question over a possible default in payment if things don’t recover quickly here. Wen assured that China has confidence the U.S. will return to prosperity. It wants to help the U.S meet that goal. It looks as if this partnership for clean energy research might just be China’s way of pushing us to that prosperity—for China’s own sake. Make no mistake, China is out for number one always.

Watch some of the interview even though it is not about the environment per se, it is a good snapshot of China, a country we will soon partner with for clean energy research.


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While We Continue to Argue About Global Warming; China Finds Going Green Very Profitable

Uh oh. I just read this article on ABC News website, http://abcnews.go.com/International/JustOneThing/Story?id=8327868&page=1, about Baoding China reinventing itself from an automobile/textile city to a green hub that is so prosperous it will probably become a model city pretty quick. The Chinese are very industrious people and Chinese officials like profit. The Mayor of Baoding Yu Quns has shown them that going green is unbelievably doable and profitable in short time. So you see where the “Uh oh” comes in? While we’re arguing about global warming, the Chinese will be terribly busy doing what they do best—copy and improve on a massive scale what Yu Quns did in Baoding, another missed opportunity for the U.S to become a leader.

Yu’s style of transformation was drastic but Baoding let industrial pollution go on for so long that drastic measures were necessary. Yu saw thousands of dead fish floating in Baoding’s largest lake. Yu took action and closed down “several hundred factories whose pollution was to blame. The city lost 2% in annual economic growth. That’s a high price to pay. In the U.S. this would be political suicide. Our fossil fuel industry would destroy the guy. But Yu learned a lesson that we should grasp quickly: “Polluting first and cleaning up later is very expensive…So we [Baoding] chose renewable energy to replace traditional industry.”

The ABC news info went on to say, “In three years, Yu has transformed Baoding from an automobile and textile town into the fastest-growing hub of solar, wind, and biomass energy-equipment makers in China. Baoding now has the highest growth rate of any city in Hebei Province. Its “Electricity Valley” industrial cluster – consciously modeled on Silicon Valley – has quadrupled its business.” Uh, oh.

Heaven forbid this story gets around in the U.S. that environmentalists and the Obama Administration are on the right track attempting to turnover polluting industry in America to clean renewables and at the same time create thousands of jobs for a big profit in a short time, (I’m being facetious). Of course there will be much dissing over here about what Yu accomplished over there blah, blah, blah. It’s not like Yu didn’t come up against opposition in the form of COMMUNIST PARTY LEADERS, yet he prevailed. We can’t get past the argument about being responsible for pollution that affects our climate. Those that pollute win the argument here. What’s wrong with this picture? It shows the power of polluting industry doesn’t it?

On that note, be prepared for new “Tea Party” like grass roots protests across America waging war against environmentally sound progress. The protests are backed by the fossil fuel industry as the heat is on against cleaner air, water, and new industry that might disrupt the status quo. They are called “Energy Citizens” rallies. http://current.com/items/90713635_big-oil-trade-groups-plans-to-recruit-employees-to-attend-anti-clean-energy-rallies.htm. All the while China quietly continues to build on a money making turnaround. The big fear here should be that they emerge as the new green powered super power, and ideal model for other countries? Uh, oh—again.

Watch the following video of the flip side of China with the Dirtiest City on Earth:

You can see the pollution in hot spots like this all over the earth, but naysayers till maintain human pollution doesn’t affect atmospheric conditions, suuuuuuuuure. The video speaks volumes. People that argue against cleaning up our act relative to pollution cannot claim to be friends of the earth.

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