September 2011 Archives Week 2
September 22, 2011 |
by Pete Danko
An ambitious project intended to boost cleantech and advanced manufacturing in Portland, Ore., got a nudge forward this week. At the urging of Mayor Sam Adams, the City Council voted 3-2 to add $1.7 million to $450,000 that had already been allocated for planning for the Oregon Sustainability Center. Adams hailed the vote, saying the green-in-every-which-way building would create jobs and help Portland “continue to be a market leader in some of the fastest-growing economic sectors.”
But planning money is not construction money and while Portland has said it’s willing to put up $13 million for the center, the city is looking to the state to chip in another $37 million from the sale of bonds. In the last session of the state legislature Republicans wouldn’t get on board, and one GOP lawmaker told the Oregonian newspaper the narrow City Council vote hadn’t done much to convince him of the center’s viability.
The two councilmembers who voted against going forward with the project said they did so out fear that the city would be taking on too much risk. Even councilmembers who supported the project sounded nervous about the cost. Still, the council did move forward, and Adams and supporters received good news from the Obama administration, as well, this week: The U.S. Commerce Department, thorugh its Economic Development Administration, announced a $1.5 million grant for the project.
The federal grant is specifically aimed to support “self-sustaining water and wastewater systems that will be a model for green building practices,” at the center. Water is just one of several ways the center would be paragon of green development; the plan is to achieve a triple net-zero rating as the building enerates its own energy – with a solar power system, in part – and producing no carbon emissions or waste.Reprinted with permission from EarthTechling
by Marc Stoiber
A few months back, an interesting story caught my eye. It documented the green claims being made by Malt-O-Meal around their plastic bag packaging.
According to Malt-O-Meal, their bags created less environmental impact than the competition’s boxes. They had, in fact, created a website titled 'Bag The Box' to tout these environmental claims.
From a strictly green perspective, this was a bit of a head scratcher: some of Malt-O-Meal’s cereals do come in boxes; the bagged cereal bags are heavy plastic, with environmental baggage of their own; and the bags were introduced as cost-reduction measures years ago – it’s not like Malt-O-Meal woke up one morning and decided to make the world a better place one bag at a time.
Digging deeper, I discovered Malt-O-Meal actually had a very credible green policy outside the bag. Their manufacturing plants have conservation programs, they’re involved in the US EPA’s SmartWay transport initiative, they purchase renewable energy, save water and waste, and use Energy Star equipment to cut down on power.
But it was the bag, and the potential greenwash that came with it, that made the news. So was it good news for the brand, or bad?
I met with Malt-O-Meal’s consumer marketing manager Linda Fisher to dig into the potential hazards of their approach. Fisher was refreshingly candid and unapologetic.
“We’re a small company – a David among Goliaths – and we introduced bags because they saved money and gave us a competitive edge,” Fisher explained. “Truth is, cost savings were a big driver behind all our initiatives, from energy conservation to waste reduction.”
It must be working. Over the last 10 years, Malt-O-Meal doubled market share to 10 percent. And the company is the only cereal manufacturer to build new plants to meet demand over the last decade.
But will the green bag controversy help or hinder Malt-O-Meal’s growth? Or does it even matter?
I believe imperfect progress is still progress. While the bag is not a green solution, it beats the ‘bag and box’ favored by other manufacturers hands down. In fact, it contains 75 percent less consumer packaging than a comparably sized box with an interior bag.
It also gains legitimacy, thanks to Malt-O-Meal’s other green initiatives – initiatives I would never have been aware of, were it not for the bag controversy.
Finally, the bag is a good innovation on other fronts. For example, it reduces costs – enabling Malt-O-Meal to compete effectively. And as Fisher says, those cost-savings are passed onto consumers, having saved US families over $1 billion since 2006.
So it would seem that this measure, born of efficiency, has helped create a stronger green brand for Malt-O-Meal. Even if it is in a roundabout way.Reprinted with permission from CSRwire
A new report by the U.S. Energy Information Agency predicts that worldwide energy consumption will surge 53 percent between 2008 and 2035, with China and India accounting for about half of the growth. As their economies continue to expand, China and India are expected to double their energy demand by 2035, and combined they will consume about 31 percent of the world’s energy, according to the report, International Energy Outlook 2011. The report calculates that global energy use, which was about 505 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2008, will rise to 619 quadrillion Btu in 2020 and reach 770 quadrillion Btu in 2035. China, which passed the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer in 2009, will use about 68 percent more energy than the U.S. within 25 years. The report says that renewable energy is the fastest growing source of electricity, with an annual growth of about 2.8 percent. By 2035, about 15 percent of the world’s power will come from renewable sources, the report estimates. Eighty percent will come from fossil fuels, especially coal, with China accounting for 76 percent of the world’s projected net increase in coal consumption.Reprinted with permission from Yale Environment 360
by Christopher DeMorro
The press days at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show may be over, but there are still a few tidbits trickling in here and there. Take this Ford E-Bike concept, which has an electric-assist motor that provides up to 53 miles of power, and is loaded with all sorts of high-tech goodies.
Ford is hardly ahead of the curve here, as everybody from Toyota to Smart and even Shelby have already gone ahead and shown off (and in some cases, sold) bikes branded with the names of familiar automobiles and companies. And like the others, Ford’s E-Bike concept is loaded with technology.
The carbon fiber and aluminum frame weigh just 5.5 pounds, and the front wheel has an integrated electric motor assist. Powered by a 9.3 amp-hour lithium-ion battery, the electric motor can go up to 15.5 mph and offer pedaling assistance for up to 53 miles. The 11-speed transmission Mavic Elipse wheels, and gears are all top-of-the-line stuff too. And then there is the handlebar-mounted display (what, no touchscreen??) that shows trip information and whatnot too.
Does Ford plan to get into the bike business? Probably not now, at least. But with the way things are going, big car makers may be considering expanding their portfolios beyond just cars and into other means of transportation. Does Ford make a scooter yet?
Ford Rides into E-Bike Market with Stunning Concept
E-Bike Concept demonstrates how Ford’s design language can translate to a bicycle
The concept pairs cutting-edge sensor technology from the world of Formula One with top-of-the-range bicycle components
Promising a range of up to 85km on a full charge, Ford E-Bike Concept could be an innovative solution for urban mobility
FRANKFURT, Germany, Sept. 19, 2011 – Alongside the exciting line-up of new vehicle and technology introductions on its stand at Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford is also unveiling a rather surprising addition to its range – an E-Bike.
Designed to show how the company’s design language can translate to a bicycle, the Ford E-Bike Concept also demonstrates the spectrum of Ford’s electric mobility competence. Ford has no plans to produce the E-Bike but will continue studying the concept along with other future mobility solutions.
“The E-Bike market is growing very, very rapidly, with some 30 million units sold globally last year,” said Axel Wilke, director, vehicle personalisation, Ford Customer Service Division Europe. “We see E-Bikes as an important element of urban electric mobility. More and more people are using E?Bikes for short distance commuting and they are becoming comfortable with the concept of electric mobility.”
Developed by a Ford Design team led by Executive Design Director Martin Smith, in partnership with cyber-Wear, the German brand behind Ford’s popular Lifestyle Collection products, the Ford E-Bike Concept has been created from the ground up to appeal to both men and women.
At the heart of the design is a trapezoidal frame profile. Constructed from aluminium and carbon, the frame combines outstanding strength with a weight of just 2.5kg. The wheels, with a six-spoke V-design, appear to float around the frame, while the drive system is hidden from view, creating a clean, minimalist appearance.
Providing the power is a drive system consisting of a motor in the front wheel hub, a lithium-ion battery concealed in the frame, promising a range of up to 85km on a full charge, an integrated controller and patented magnetostriction sensor technology from the world of Formula One.
Magneotostrictive materials are used to convert magnetic energy into kinetic energy, and vice versa. In Formula One, these sensors help handle high engine revolutions in combination with intense thermal strains. They need no physical contact with other parts of the engine, are temperature-independent and are completely maintenance-free.
In the Ford E-Bike, the first application of this technology in the bicycle industry, the sensors read the revolutions in the inner bearing and relay this information to the control unit within a hundredth of a second. The control unit then instantly activates or deactivates the electric motor, providing a seamless integration of the power of the legs with the power of the motor.
A handlebar-mounted display provides trip information and allows the rider to select from three support modes – Economy, Comfort and Sport.
Range-Topping Bicycle Components
The drive system is complemented by top-of-the-range bicycle components, including a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub and a 2012 Shimano Rapidfire shifter. In place of a traditional chain is a Carbon Belt Drive System, making for a cleaner, lighter and more immediate transfer of energy.
“With its cutting edge design, cross-gender appeal, robust build quality and high performance drive package, we believe the Ford E-Bike Concept would be the perfect addition to the e?mobility solutions we will offer,” added Wilke.
Front wheel hub motor
Max. nominal power: 350W
Electricity: 36V – 250W
Supports up to 25km/h (to EN 15194)
Clutch with freewheel function
Gearbox: Planet gears
Integral sensor technology
Cell type: Lithium-ion accumulator
Electricity: 340Wh, 36V, 9.3Ah
Charging cycles: 1000 cycles at 80 percent residual capacity
BMS (Battery Management System): protects against deep discharge and self-discharge Charge times: 80 percent after 2 hours, 100 percent after 3-4 hours (at room temperature)
Range: Up to 85km (depending on drive power and support mode selected) Temperature range: -20°C to +60°C
Extremely small unit to connect battery (remains on bike) to normal mains network.
Intelligent electronics to prevent overcharging, undervolting, overheating and shortcircuit; in particular, sleep function prevents deep charging and necessity for recalibration with charger connected
Controller display functions:
Background lighting with light sensor system
Energy-saving automatic sleep mode
Diagnosis function with fault code display
Support modes: Economy, Comfort, Sport
Displays: Range, Battery capacity, Speed, Time, Distance, Maximum speed, Average speed, Total distance, Service reminder, System diagnosis, Support modes
iPhone Smartphone app control function planned
Wheels: Mavic Elipse Aluminum black (modified with Ford Design crossing)
Tyres: Continental Ultra Sport black
Pedals: Wellgo LU-C27G, silver/black
Handlebars: Downhill Aluminum black, custom made
Stem: Giant SLR Carbon 110mm
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR XC
Brakes: Avid Elixir 5, full hydraulic, 185mm, white
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.fordmotorcompany.com.
Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.Reprinted with permission from Gas 2.0
But when it comes to tracking the emissions of the power plants that are a magnitude larger than our little 4-cylnder, we are still largely in the Mesozoic Era.
The United States is only surpassed by China in CO2 emissions, as highlighted in the recent Pike Research report Carbon Management Software and Services, which forecasts that managing CO2 will become a $2.4 billion industry in 2017.
It is easy for those of us who come from the IT industry to scoff at the power industry, which is replete with proprietary handcrafted networks and databases that even within a single location don’t talk to each other, let alone to the outside world. The coming smart grid is largely focused on bringing the power industry up to the level of technology that the financial, information, and telecommunications networks achieved at least a decade ago.
It’s not that grid operators don’t have some elements of live data-sharing down. The same “five 9s” focus on reliability has been used for generations to regionally balance power generation and demand with a precision that would give a network operations center manager goose bumps. Every hair dryer or cell phone that gets plugged in has to be matched to generation, and remarkably, the grid works smoothly nearly all the time. The perpetual need to locate and pay for additional power prompted grid operators to engineer a Wall Street-like trading market that includes a day-ahead market, as well as up to the second pricing and reconciliation technology that pulls in power from hundreds of miles away through the marginal power market.
But when it comes to tracking the emissions that are produced during the generation of power, the industry has a blind spot. Most requirements for tracking CO2, NOx, particulates, and other emissions at generation facilities apply on an annual basis, without regard to the amount of power produced. There’s very little data anywhere on emissions on an hourly or daily basis. Regulatory folks I’ve spoken with were lacking information and surprised that I asked the question about correlating emissions to the power produced.
Counting the CO2 per megawatt hour would be a great place to start to understand grid efficiency. If ongoing data about each generation facility were collected, we would have a baseline for understanding the true carbon footprint of our generation mix. The next step would be to integrate the emissions data with the purchases of electricity on the marginal power market to create an hour-by-hour profile of how green the power grid really is.
To my knowledge, agencies such as FERC, the EPA, and the ISO operators don’t routinely ask for this level of fuel efficiency, so there is no financial or other reason for the data to be collected by power producers. One motivation to start doing so would be to better understand the carbon impact of newly arriving electric vehicles. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory this week released a report that looked at how EVs could be used to balance expanding wind generation mix. But how clean or dirty is the rest of the grid at night when vehicles are likely to be charged? It’s about time we found out.
Photo by Ryan Lackey/flickr/Creative Commons
John Gartner is a senior analyst at Pike Research and a co-founder of Matter Network.
by Charis Michelsen
Japan is extraordinarily determined to ensure acceptance of electric vehicles. Its most recent push came in the form of a team-up between Terra Motors and the JACLA (JApan Car Life Assist) aimed at driver’s ed students nationwide. 300 driving schools throughout the country received large plasma displays solely for the purpose of running ads for electric scooters.
These aren’t the first electric vehicles – or even electric scooters – to hit the Japanese market this year, and they probably won’t be the last. This past summer has seen a number of new EVs and accessories as the Japanese start to look at energy production/conservation and consequently alternatively powered vehicles with new eyes. Terra Motors, looking for its own corner of the market, is the first to specifically target super-new drivers.
Driving classrooms aren’t the only places students (and others) will see electric scooters – service and sales are also starting at major electronics stores, home centers, and gas stations. In addition, the joint venture also has a major internet portal and shopping site planned, to ensure distribution channels and advertising through the internet.
Terra and JACLA hope to increase sales dramatically with their new marketing tactic – familiarity breeds affinity, and hopefully the impulse to buy.Reprinted with permission from Gas 2.0
Sysco (NYSE: SYY), the largest foodservice distributor in the US, announced it will sell only responsibly-sourced seafood by 2015.
The company announced it would work with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to develop a sustainable fish policy.
WWF will first assess how Sysco sources its top 10 seafood species, which represents about 52 percent of the seafood it sells: wild-caught tuna, clams, cod, pollock, shrimp, scallops, salmon, calamari, lobster and crab. Once that information is gathered, they will work together to develop a strategy.
Sysco will also encourage its tuna suppliers to work with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation to move toward long-term procurement of sustainable, MSC-certified tuna sources.
Bluefin Tuna, widely used in sushi, is one of the most critically endangered fish species in the world, with less than 10 percent of fish stocks remaining.
WWF's Sustainable Seafood Initiative focuses on making trade and seafood harvesting more sustainable. WWF will work collaboratively with Sysco's suppliers to change practices across the supply chain to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainability standards.
WWF also coordinates multi-stakeholder roundtables, called Aquaculture Dialogues, to minimize the negative environmental and social impacts associated with aquaculture.
"Securing responsible fisheries and healthy marine ecosystems is only possible by working with the fishing and aquaculture industries along their entire seafood supply chain," says Bill Fox, vice president and managing director of WWF's fisheries program. "We are excited to work with Sysco to identify tangible, ambitious strategies that will help lead the industry to more sustainable seafood sourcing practices."
Sysco operates 177 distribution facilities serving 400,000 customers. For the most recent fiscal year, they had record sales of more than $39 billion.
Photo by Nils Rinaldi/flickr/Creative CommonsReprinted with permission from Sustainable Business.com
by Timothy Hurst
The year was 2000, I was in the middle of a six-week long roadtrip on the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. While the trip was surfing oriented, it wasn't exclusively a surfing trip, especially when the only "highway" running the length of the peninsula, Mexico Federal Highway 1, also known as the Carretera Transpeninsular, meandered along the calm coastal waters of the Gulf of California, on the eastern (inland-facing) side of the Baja peninsula. On those calm days when looking for waves was not even on the itinerary, the trip was a chance to soak up the rich cultural and ecological bounty not usually explored by tourists on a week-long vacation in Cabo.
It was on one of those eastern sojourns near the very tip of the peninsula when, after a several hour jaunt through the hot and dusty interior of Baja California Sur, we stumbled upon a humble coastal village with a small market, a tiny palapa restaurant and plenty of good spots to camp for a night or two. The tiny village of Cabo Pulmo was more than a welcomed sight, it was paradise found. But unlike the other small villages we had come across on the Sea of Cortez, this one did not have dozens of pangas loaded with fishing nets pulled up on the shore, or, for that matter, any tell-tale signs that it was a fishing village. That's because it wasn't a fishing village. Cabo Pulmo, we soon found out, was the home of Mexico's only national marine reserve. And while there were, in fact, a handful of pangas, they were all loaded with divers and scuba gear, flying the familiar "diver down" flag.
Designated by the Mexican government in 1995, the waters offshore from Cabo Pulmo were designated the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, to protect a coral reef that, while teeming with marine life, was also home to fewer species and less marine biodiversity than it had been just a few decades earlier. The cause? Unsustainable and unregulated sport and commercial fishing in the area of the East Cape.
Against all odds, the informal and under-funded marine park has been heralded as a success. Right around the time I visited the relatively new park in 2000, marine ecologist visited the area on an expedition to study local fish populations. Sala returned nearly ten years later and was floored by what he saw. Sala writes:
"In 2009 we went back to Cabo Pulmo to monitor the fish populations. We jumped in the water, expecting fishes to be more abundant after 10 years of protection. But we could not believe what we saw–thousands upon thousands of large fishes such as snappers, groupers, trevally, and manta rays. They were so abundant that we could not see each other if we were fifteen meters apart. We saw more sharks in one dive at Cabo Pulmo than in 10 years of diving throughout the Gulf of California!"
According to Sala's research, the amount of fish at Cabo Pulmo increased 460 percent in ten years, "to a level similar to remote pristine coral reefs that have never been fished."
By comparison, all other sites in the Gulf of California that Sala and company visited in 2009 were as degraded as they were ten years earlier.
Conservation doesn't always have to be big and flashy to be successful.Reprinted with permission from Ecopolitology
by Laura Caseley
The Laundry Lounge – does it sound like a place you’d want to hang out? Electronics giant LG and Coinmach, a supplier of outsourced laundry equipment, sure hope so. They’ve collaborated to introduce this revamped version of the laundromat, designed to be more comfortable for users and more environmentally sound, thanks to energy efficient appliances. The first Laundry Lounge, owned and operated by Coinmach’s subsidiary Super Laundry, opened in New York City’s West Harlem neighborhood, with many more to come, LG hopes.
The new laundromat comes with LG’s efficient washers, which have a variety of features designed to cut down on water and energy use: tilted drums and adjustable settings to reduce unnecessary water use, and technology that removes more water from wet laundry to ensure less time in the dryer, for example. All 26 washers and 32 dryers are Energy Star qualified. And since waiting for your undies to dry isn’t terribly exciting, the Laundry Lounge offers free television and Internet access for patrons, which developers hope will create a more homelike experience.
The Laundry Lounge has even done away with the bane of most laundromat-goers – the reliance on coins. Instead, it uses a card system from ESD. According to a Yelp reviewer, washing a load of clothes costs $2.50, and drying is free.
While LG is hoping customers will appreciate the atmosphere and the value, there’s another target with the Laundry Lounge: laundromat owners. “The Laundry Lounge concept offers a dual cost benefit to the business owner and customer with its Energy Star rated machines, delivering powerful cleaning capabilities along with savings on water usage and energy costs,” LG Appliance President Sam Kim said.Reprinted with permission from EarthTechling
German industrial giant Siemens (NYSE: SI) has decided to follow the lead set by the country's government, and walk away from nuclear energy altogether.
"We will no longer be involved in overall managing of building or financing nuclear plants. This chapter is closed for us," CEO Peter Loescher told Der Spiegel in an interview published Sunday.
Since the nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in March, public sentiment in Germany and other parts of the world has turned against nuclear.
Germany has already shut down several of its oldest nuclear reactors and passed legislation to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 and increase investment in renewable energy.
Siemens will no longer develop equipment used solely for nuclear power production, although equipment - such as steam turbines - that are used in nuclear, gas and coal plants will remain in the company's portfolio.
Loescher says Siemens' decision was "an answer to the clear position of society and politics in Germany on exiting nuclear power."
As part of the company's decision, it will back out of a joint nuclear venture with Russia's Rosatom.
Siemens is aggressively moving into many areas of green manufacturing including various renewable energies, smart grid and water technologies.Reprinted with permission from Sustainable Business.com
by Jennifer Shockley
Architecture and art are considered different fields but in many forms they are very similar especially as they both are commonly striving to bring people and their environment together in a unified, unique and memorable experience.
Architects are taught material characteristics so that they can understand how to design a functional structure. Artists work with materials and know how to push those characteristics to and past known functional extents, creating new boundaries.
An interesting, and not a far-fetched, comparison can be found in Jason deCaires Tayor’s Underwater Sculptures and the underwater restaurant on Rangalifinolhu Island.
The island resort called The Conrad Maldives Rangali is an exclusive getaway only accessible by airplane. It boasts the first ever glass, under-the-sea restaurant, sitting 16 feet below the surface, entitled Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. This is a chance for people to experience their environment in a different manner than normal.
The glass restaurant opened in the mid-2000’s and for special occasions the dining room can be transformed into a private (well besides the fish) bedroom for two.
The island resort is a private excursion whereas the recent sculpture museum of Taylor’s is more for public viewing.
The underwater museum opened in 2009 off the coasts in the water surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc and is named MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte).
Along with the artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, the museum was founded by Jamie Gonzalez Cano from the National Marine Park and Roberto Diaz from the Cancun Nautical Association.
The underwater museum is still expanding but opened with 403 permanent life-size sculptures done by Taylor aiming to demonstrate the interaction of art and the environment. The material used is specialized to promote coral life and the location promotes the recovery of the natural reefs, relieving pressure by drawing visitors away to visit the underwater museum.
There have been four installations:
1. La Jardinera de la Esperanza
2. Coleccionista de los Suenos
3. Hombre en Llamas
4. The Silent Evolution
“The Silent Evolution, his most ambitious work to date, is a collection of over 400 life-size figurative works, forming a vast gathering of people aiming to define a new era of living in a symbiotic relationship with nature.”
These two distinct works, a resort restaurant and a museum exhibit, are related by not just the water that they are submerged in but also in the drive for the people to interact more with nature and to understand the life that is all around us without disturbing its wonder.
Architecture and art are profound fields that can teach people the reasons that sustainability is not only a necessary element, but a beautiful, interactive experience.Reprinted with permission from Green Building Elements
by Susan Kraemer
Starting in January 2012, the EPA will implement the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) cap and trade program that will put a cap on ground-level ozone (smog) nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that cross state lines. The EPA cap and trade program will achieve similar results to last year’s climate bill, making coal less attractive financially than clean energy.
The Obama administration may have lost the battle but it has won the war. Last year, the Waxman-Markey climate bill (which capped coal plant pollution, in order to curtail climate change) was killed in the Senate (Republican filibuster) after passing the then heavily Democratic House.
Now, with no climate bill, it will be the EPA’s own cap and trade under the CSAPR starting in January that will cut climate change, one of several EPA actions which which will curtail the use of coal. The loss will be made up by shifting to more natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biomass and eventually ocean energy and nuclear power for electricity. The coal industry can also, to some extent, clean up as well.
The EPA has successfully administered cap and trade systems in the past. EPA cap and trade got the lead from our gasoline and EPA cap and trade got the acid from our rain, (and under the Montreal Protocol, international cap and trade is closing the stratospheric ozone hole over Antarctica). So it has a long history of success in putting a cap on pollution, and then ratcheting it down, using cap and trade.
Under cap and trade, dirty power plants must cap pollution. That is the cap. Dirty power plants must pay money to the cleaner power plants. That is the trade (in “emissions quotas”). The money from the dirty power plants pays for the new technology that the clean power plants install to emit less pollution. It is simple, and costs taxpayers little or less than nothing: the CBO score of the climate cap and trade bill showed a net gain of $60 billion over the next eight years, for example.
Republicans have mounted CRA resolutions to put an end to the implementation of the cap and trade plan by the EPA ( S.J. Res 27 and H.R. 2891) but Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions can be vetoed by the president, and overcoming a presidential veto would take 67 votes in the Senate. With only 47 Republicans, that would be about as hard for them as it has been over these last 5 years for a Democratic majority of under 60 (for all but a few months) to overcome the persistent Republican filibuster, which only takes 40 votes.
Surprisingly, the shoe is on the other foot.Reprinted with permission from Cleantechnica
by Gerry Runte
Glendale Water and Power, the municipal utility for the city of Glendale, California, is one of the first U.S utilities to connect all of its electric customers using smart grid technology and the first to integrate smart systems for two commodities: electricity and water. The company has more than 84,000 electric and nearly 33,000 water smart meters in operation. The transition to a smart system took about 3 years and was led by Glenn Steiger, Glendale’s general manager. In preparation for an update to Pike Research’s Smart Grid Technology report, I spoke to Steiger about this deployment.
Pike Research: I suspect this transition has been all consuming. When do you declare victory?
Glenn Steiger: It has certainly been fast-paced. Once we have all meters installed, we will begin a two month period of doing parallel readings to confirm operations. But we are by no means “done” at that point. There is now a foundation for several other add-ins. We’re about to start a pilot of distribution automation at one key substation that will run for about 12 months. We intend to install about 10 MW of Ice Bear Energy Storage units distributed over 2,000 sites that Glendale will own and operate. There’s PV to integrate. Lots more to do, so “victory” is not part of my vocabulary.
PR: So let’s go back to the beginning. How and when did the idea of installing a smart grid start?
GS: The idea of a smart grid came about through both necessity and because of our two Korean sister cities. We were looking at ways to increase the overall efficiency of our system, and to deal with some operational issues like outage frequency and water losses. Smart grid came to the top of long-term solutions. About the same time, two of our city councilors traveled to Korea and were impressed with what their utilities were doing using advanced electric system technology. We put a business case together in 2008. In 2009 we applied for a $20 million grant from US DOE and won. In 2010 we completed our proof of concept trials and began an 18 month installation program.
PR: What were the goals of the original business case?
GS: The business case looked at two broad categories of benefits: societal benefits, such as improving customer service and satisfaction, as well as enhancing conservation; and operational benefits such as increasing the efficiency of the distribution network plus reducing outage sizes and duration. What we did not look at and have never really tried to value was any reduction in personnel as a cost savings. Our business case had a payback period of 7 years, which we believe will now be less than 5 years with the DOE grant.
PR: Describe what the system consists of at the moment, and its communications network.
GS: It’s probably best to work from the customer interface. The home network communicates using Zigbee from the meter, in combination with an in-home device for customer interaction. The electric meters use the Itron OpenWay 900 MHz mesh system within the Network Area Network (NAN). The water meters use a different Itron system. Backhaul from the meters to the Wide Area Network (WAN) is handled by a Tropos 900 MHz RF network to communicate with the substations. This system will also be used for distribution automation. Our 13 substations connect via a Wi-Fi network and they connect back to headquarters via a fiber optic system.
PR: Whose in-home device do you use?
GS: We have a unique in-home device produced by a local company, CEIVA. The unit is basically a digital picture frame hung on a wall. It connects both to the Glendale system and in-house sensors using Zigbee and to the internet. The customer can see their meter data and control appliances within the home. When not being used, the customer simply loads whatever picture they want it to display.
PR: What was the toughest part of the whole transition?
GS: Designing and installing the IT infrastructure and enterprise software. This was by far the biggest piece of our overall effort.
PR: How do you measure success?
GS: Internally, we will be taking a careful look at our efficiency in outage management – time to restore power; customers affected; quality of customer service measured by calls received, dropped calls, time of calls. From the customer side we’ll be measuring the overall impact on use patterns and reductions. So far we are seeing a 3% real reduction in peak demand. We expect to improve water losses by 7 percent.
PR: Tell us what your customers have been telling you about smart grid so far.
GS: So far we believe our customers are overwhelmingly supportive. That’s not to say we have not had some vocal groups that were critical of the program, primarily out of concerns relating to exposure to RF signals. Recently there have been a few privacy concerns raised as well. In general, though, our customers are pretty happy. We may not have the average profile of other utilities, though. Glendale has a fairly high percentage of early adopters. In addition, a number of film studios, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cal Tech are nearby. Their employees are very interested in new technology.
PR: Any thoughts on the future? What’s your crystal ball telling you?
GS: It will be a while before smart grid really begins to happen in the US- at least 5 to 10 years. Like a lot of energy programs in the country, it will be continue to be regional in the absence of any federal policy. Right now maybe two thirds of the east coast, Texas and California are where things are beginning to happen. Smart grids have been mandated for the California IOUs. I do think momentum will pick up in the next 2 to 3 years, though.
There is no question that utilities take an entirely different perspective on how their systems function and operate once they have smart grid capability. One thing we see happening is a lot more networking among utility systems. More and more systems, like EVs or appliances, will be networked in the electric grid simply because now they can be. Much of present day utility-system concepts are already becoming anachronisms.Gerry Runte is an industry analyst who covers smart energy for Pike Research.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) finalized a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for a huge concentrating solar (CSP) plant in California this week, even as the agency came under fire for failing to distribute stimulus funds and create promised green jobs.
The 250-megawatt (MW) Mojave Solar Project is sponsored by Abengoa Solar Inc., and is expected to create more than 900 construction and permanent operations jobs.
However, according to its own tallies the DOE's $40 billion loan guarantee program has so far only created or saved a fraction of the 65,000 direct and indirect jobs it predicted - 3,545 direct jobs to be exact, the Washington Post reports.
But DOE says it is on track to hit 60,000 jobs once financing is complete and construction begins on all of the 40-plus projects in the pipeline. So far only about half of the funds have been disbursed.
Republicans have been hammering the Obama administration on the clean energy loan program since the bankruptcy filing earlier this month by solar manufacturer Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee.
US Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is proposing legislation that would require federal agencies to conduct a full audit of every renewable energy project that receives stimulus funding. The so-called Federal Accountability of Renewable Energy Act calls for an accounting of the number of jobs created, the profitability of the project, and the venture capital firms involved.
But DOE is holding course and intends to finalize loans for an additional 15 clean energy projects by the end of the month when the program concludes under the 2009 stimulus package.
Stimulus funds were intentionally spread over the course of a couple of years to help the country emerge from the recession over time, rather than a quick infusion without lasting effects.
Photo by Images_of_Money/flickr/Creative CommonsReprinted with permission from Sustainable Business.com