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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Stanford scientist to unveil 50-state plan to transform US to renewable energy

Stanford scientist to unveil 50-state plan to transform US to renewable energy
Feb 15, 2014

Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson and his colleagues recently developed detailed plans to transform the energy infrastructure of New York, California and Washington states from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable resources by 2050. On Feb. 15, Jacobson will present a new roadmap to renewable energy for all 50 states at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.

The online interactive roadmap is tailored to maximize the resource potential of each state. Hovering a cursor over California, for example, reveals that the Golden State can meet virtually all of its power demands (transportation, electricity, heating, etc.) in 2050 by switching to a clean technology portfolio that is 55 percent solar, 35 percent wind (on- and offshore), 5 percent geothermal and 4 percent hydroelectric.

"The new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. "It provides all of the basic information, such as how many wind turbines and solar panels would be needed to power each state, how much land area would be required, what would be the cost and cost savings, how many jobs would be created, how much pollution-related mortality and global-warming emissions would be avoided."

The 50-state roadmap will be launched this week on the website of The Solutions Project, a national outreach effort led by Jacobson, actor Mark Ruffalo (co-star of The Avengers), film director Josh Fox and others to raise public awareness about switching to clean energy produced entirely by wind, water and sunlight. Also on Feb. 15, Solutions Project member Leilani Munter, a professional racecar driver, will publicize the 50-state plan at a Daytona National Speedway racing event in Daytona, Fla., in which she will be participating.

"Global warming, air pollution and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today, said Jacobson...


The Solutions Project"

Woops — Gasmobile Buyer’s Remorse Not Fun

Woops — Gasmobile Buyer’s Remorse Not Fun

A sure sign of a superior technology—realizing that you screwed up when you went and bought its competitor. Not many electric car buyers go back, but for the ones that do, well, buyer’s remorse is waiting for them. After switching to an Apple computer, I can’t imagine ever going back to one of its “competitors.” At least, not as long as I spend all day working online. Similarly, after driving several electric cars, I can’t imagine ever owning a gasmobile again. That would be so depressing, unsatisfying, and bothersome! I think many of you know what I’m talking about, but maybe not as much as the guy in this story below. Via Planetsave:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—electric cars are much nicer to drive, and they’re also much more convenient (despite common misperceptions. Imagine never having to go to a gas station again. Imagine charging your car while you sit on the couch and chill out, while you sleep, or while you work. Not many electric car drivers switch back to gasmobiles after going electric. In fact, many of them find themselves preferring their electric car so much (even more than much more expensive & “luxurious” gasmobiles) that they end up getting a second electric car and ditching gasmobiles altogether.

However, sometimes drivers do go back. The result? Buyer’s remorse. Here’s a recent comment about this on the GM-Volt.com forum:
Was charging my Volt at a Chevy dealership and was talking to a senior salesman. Apparently he had a Volt for a few years and traded it in for CTS in recent months, he missed the Volt the first time he went to the gas station…

I asked him if he wanted to go Cadillac why not the ELR? He said it was not yet out and did not anticipate the unpleasantness of going back to gas. He had serious buyers remorse… He wished he waited for the ELR…

Once you go electric, driving a ICE car is like driving a stream engine — dirty and expensive to run and maintain...


New Algae Biofuel: Holy Hot Sugar, Batman!

New Algae Biofuel: Holy Hot Sugar, Batman!

When we say hot sugar, we mean a new generation of low cost industrial sugars that could help pull the biofuel market out of dependence on conventional crop based sugars. That leaves the field clear for the algae biofuel sector, and that’s where things start to get interesting.

A company called Proterro came across our radar last fall for just such an approach, which basically turns the first-generation biofuel model on its head. Instead of taking apart plants to extract sugars for processing into biofuel, Proterro has figured out a way to get a micro-algae called cyanobacteria to secrete the “hot sugar” sucrose.

Industrial sugar production from cyanobacteria Courtesy of Proterro

A Different Approach To Algae Biofuel

It’s worth noting up front that there are already several promising cost-effective pathways to extracting oils directly from algae and microalgae (here, here, and here for example), but there is plenty of room in this emerging fuel market for something different, namely, using algae to produce a sugar feedstock for fermentation into fuels and other products.

Also, for the record, cyanobacteria is commonly referred to as blue-green algae, but as its formal name indicates, it is actually a bacteria and not a form of marine plant life.

When we covered the news from Proterro last fall, the company had already won a US patent for its proprietary strain of cyanobacteria. In the latest development, Proterro has obtained a notice of allowance from the US patent office for the structural platform — a photobioreactor — that enables the bacteria to produce sugars at a highly efficient rate, in a process that uses carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water.

The Proterro Photobioreactor

According to Proterro, the photobioreactor is 30 times more productive than sugar cane...


Development: Time to Leave GDP Behind

Development: Time to Leave GDP Behind
Posted on January 17, 2014

By Robert Costanza, Ida Kubiszewski, Enrico Giovannini, Hunter Lovins, Jacqueline McGlade, Kate E. Pickett, Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir, Debra Roberts, Roberto De Vogli& Richard Wilkinson

illustration by Pete Ellis/Drawgood.com

Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success. Countries should act now to embrace new metrics, urge Robert Costanza and colleagues.
GDP measures mainly market transactions. It ignores social costs, environmental impacts and income inequality. If a business used GDP-style accounting, it would aim to maximize gross revenue — even at the expense of profitability, efficiency, sustainability or flexibility. That is hardly smart or sustainable (think Enron). Yet since the end of the Second World War, promoting GDP growth has remained the primary national policy goal in almost every country1.

Meanwhile, researchers have become much better at measuring what actually does make life worthwhile. The environmental and social effects of GDP growth can be estimated, as can the effects of income inequality2. The psychology of human well-being can now be surveyed comprehensively and quantitatively3, 4. A plethora of experiments has produced alternative measures of progress (see Supplementary Information).

The chance to dethrone GDP is now in sight. By 2015, the UN is scheduled to announce the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of international objectives to improve global well-being. Developing integrated measures of progress attached to these goals offers the global community the opportunity to define what sustainable well-being means, how to measure it and how to achieve it. Missing this opportunity would condone growing inequality and the continued destruction of the natural capital on which all life on the planet depends.

Dethroning GDP

When GDP was instituted seven decades ago, it was a relevant signpost of progress...

More at: http://natcapsolutions.org/2014/01/17/development-time-to-leave-gdp-behind/#more-4020

Sustainability is Better Business – And We Can Prove It

Sustainability is Better Business – And We Can Prove It

The Guardian 17 January 2014

by L. Hunter Lovins

"Every global indicator of the health of our planet has continued to trend in the wrong direction" - Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia. Photograph: Getty Images

It’s become weirdly fashionable to criticise companies cutting their impact on the environment and implementing more sustainable practices as insufficient.

A recent piece by Charles Eisenstein* claimed: “Let’s be honest: real sustainability may not make business sense.”

That’s just wrong. More than 50 studies** (PDF) from the likes of those wild-eyed environmentalists at Goldman Sachs show that the companies that are the leaders in environment, social and good governance policies are financially outperforming their less sustainable peers. Sustainability is better business –and we can prove it.

Richard Smith in “Green Capitalism: The God That Failed”, gets it even more wrong. He asserts: “The results are in: no amount of ‘green capitalism’ will be able to ensure the profound changes we must urgently make to prevent the collapse of civilisation from the catastrophic impacts of global warming.” He calls for “abolition of capitalist private property in the means of production and the institution of collective bottom-up democratic control over the economy and society.”

More at: http://natcapsolutions.org/2014/01/18/sustainability-is-better-business-and-we-can-prove-it/#more-4029

* http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/sustainability-business-sense-profit-purpose

** http://www.natcapsolutions.org/businesscasereports.pdf

DOE: Large-Scale Solar Passes the Halfway Mark in Achieving SunShot Cost Targets

DOE: Large-Scale Solar Passes the Halfway Mark in Achieving SunShot Cost Targets
The solar industry surges ahead of government’s 2020 targets.

Earthtechling, Pete Danko February 17, 2014

The Obama administration says that SunShot, the R&D program aiming to bring down the cost of solar-generated electricity to where it’s competitive with conventionally sourced electricity, is 60 percent of the way toward its goal, at least when it comes to big solar.

Citing levelized cost of energy data from the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Department of Energy said last week that “the average price for a utility-scale PV project has dropped from about $0.21 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to $0.11 per kilowatt-hour at the end of 2013.”

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

The DOE noted that the average retail price of electricity in the U.S. is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. That said, utility-scale solar electricity doesn’t really compete with retail electricity (whereas distributed, or rooftop solar, does) -- which is why SunShot has a 2020 goal of getting solar down to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, in the neighborhood of the cost of new natural-gas-fired generation.

The administration didn’t point to specific SunShot investments that have impacted the cost of utility-scale solar, but the program has supported a wide range of research and development efforts, typically with six- or seven-figure awards, though occasionally larger. Many of the funding opportunities have been applicable to distributed solar, but an example of a SunShot program aimed at utility-scale solar would be the $25 million grant to Soitec to open a plant in San Diego. The company makes concentrating photovoltaics panels that are used in utility-scale plants in sunny areas like the U.S. Southwest.

Surely a much bigger factor ...


(Coal Friendly) EIA Increases Short-Term Coal Retirement Prediction by 50%

EIA Increases Short-Term Coal Retirement Prediction by 50%
Coal’s future in the U.S. is looking grim.

Katherine Tweed February 17, 2014

Coal retirements are happening, and fast, according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook reference case.

EIA’s latest prediction that about 60 gigawatts of coal will retire by 2016 is up from about 40 gigawatts, a prediction it issued just last year, and more than double the 27 gigawatts it predicted in 2012. It’s not the first time that EIA lowballed its estimates when it comes to the country’s energy mix. The agency also has one of the most conservative outlooks for renewable energy growth.

In 2012 alone, about 10 gigawatts of coal were retired, amounting to just over 3 percent of the total coal-fired generation assets operating in 2011, according to the EIA. From 2010 to 2012, the average size was 97 megawatts, compared to 145 megawatts for plants retiring in the coming decades.

The retirements in coming years, driven by the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and low natural gas prices, will be larger plants compared to the facilities that have gone offline in the past few years.

The impact of retiring coal is sometimes described as potentially catastrophic to electric reliability...


Amory Lovins: energy visionary sees renewables revolution in full swing

Amory Lovins: energy visionary sees renewables revolution in full swing
From the Hypercar to home insulation, the early visions of the influential physicist are becoming a reality

John Vidal
theguardian.com, Monday 17 February 2014 10.26 EST

Amory Lovins on a visit to the Caribbean, where he is working to help island states wean themselves off expensive diesel-generated electricity. Photograph: Jenny Bates

Amory Lovins last year harvested from his small garden more than 30 pounds of bananas, along with guava, mango, papaya, loquat, passion and other exotic fruit. Nothing remarkable in that, except that the energy analyst and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) does not live in the tropics but in an unheated house 6,500 feet up a mountain near Aspen, Colorado, where the temperature falls to -44C and where last week more than two feet of snow fell in less than 24 hours.

The fruit is grown in a greenhouse that is part of the sprawling, experimental, super-insulated house at Old Snowmass, built 30 years ago for $500,000 (£300,000) and an inspiration for a generation of energy thinkers, designers and sustainable builders. Visited by 100,000 people, it was the archetype for the European Passivhaus movement.

"Heating systems are so 20th century," he says. "We have found you actually save money by not putting in a heating system. It's cheaper. The monitoring system uses more energy than the lights."

On a visit to the Caribbean where the RMI is working with Carbon War Room NGO to help island states wean themselves off expensive diesel-generated electricity, Lovins recalls a visit in the mid-1980s from the originators of the Passivhaus idea, Bo Adamson of Sweden and Wolfgang Feist from Germany. "They realised that you could make heating systems far smaller but they hadn't realised that you could save energy by eliminating the heating kit completely."

Lovins has always maintained...


National Geographic Interactive gives "Four Ways to Look at Global Carbon Footprints"


Four Ways to Look at Global Carbon Footprints
Fourteen nations and Europe account for about 80 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

Current Emissions

Per Capita


Cumulative Emissions


Dealers & Republicans Attempt Anticompetitive, Anti-Free Market Tesla Ban… Again

Dealers & Republicans Attempt Anticompetitive, Anti-Free Market Tesla Ban… Again

An Ohio state senator, backed by local car dealers has for the second time introduced a measure that would ban the sales of the Tesla Model S. So much for the unfettered free market, eh?

Change can be scary. I get it, I really do, but these anti-Tesla laws are insane, plain and simple. Car dealership owners simply foresee Tesla’s factory-owned dealer model as threatening their livelihood, and they’ll stoop to new lows to prevent Elon Musk’s electric car maker from setting down roots. In Ohio, a measure banning the direct sale of cars by manufacturers was already stricken down, but don’t expect dealers to go quietly into the night.

With paid-for Republican Tom Patton leading the way, the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association has re-entered the same bill for consideration to the state senate, albeit with the provision that Tesla’s two currently operating stores remain open. Tesla is currently fighting similar legislation in at least four other states, with a mixed rate of success so far. Tesla sales are banned in Texas, but other markets have opened their doors to the electric car maker.

Dealership associations are fighting to preserve a model that has prevented major car makers from selling vehicles directly to consumers for decades now. Tesla is able to get around many of these state laws because there are no Tesla franchises to compete with, so dealer associations and their Republican cronies are scrambling to rewrite the laws in order to force Tesla to comply with the franchise model.

It’s absolute insanity, and the fact that a single company can be so blatantly and unfairly targeted should piss off anybody who considers themselves a car enthusiast....

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