Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS: Jeff Weems Editorial: "The Wrong Conductor is Driving the Train"

Interesting article on the state of play in Texas regarding Drilling.

Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS: Jeff Weems Editorial: "The Wrong Conductor is Driving the Train"

News Item - Greentech Media

President Obama called for "building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country" in last week's State of the Union speech. Carol Browner, Obama's energy and climate advisor, had floated some comments favorable to nuclear in the past few weeks, so this should not come as a complete surprise.

Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Obama's mention of nuclear energy in the SOTU was the most important statement that the president has made yet on the issue of nuclear power.

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Monday, 30 November 2009

Solar Panels causing some argy bargy

Ready to chuck his electric bills, Camarillo resident Marc Weinberg last year asked his homeowners association for permission to put solar panels on his roof.

When the Spanish Hills Homeowners Assn. said no, Weinberg sued the group. Under the state's Solar Rights Act, he argued, a homeowners association can't unreasonably block solar installations.

Weinberg won, and the Spanish Hills Homeowners Assn. was ordered to not only permit the solar panels but to cover the tens of thousands of dollars that Weinberg had spent on legal fees. Since last fall, when he installed a double row of matte black panels, three other homes in the hilltop neighborhood of luxury estates have added panels.

"We didn't set out to be green activists," said Weinberg, 39, a real estate attorney. "That's not where we're coming from. We honestly looked at it from a financial standpoint."

Whether motivated by pocketbook or environmentalism, similar battles between homeowners groups and property owners are cropping up across the state as the installation of solar systems becomes more affordable and utility costs rise.

Homeowners boards insist that they are protecting property values by enforcing rules that govern everything from paint color to how early trash bins can be set out for collection. But residents say their right to invest in alternative energy trumps the sensibilities of neighbors who don't like how the panels look.

Results of the battles have been mixed even as the nation is being urged by the Obama administration to embrace alternative energy.

Santa Clarita homeowner Marty Griffin put solar panels up anyway after his homeowners association rejected his application. The Tesoro Del Valle Homeowners Assn. sued him, and in early November a jury told Griffin the panels should be moved to a more discreet spot on his property.

Solar installer Bradley Bartz earlier this year threatened a Palos Verdes commun- ity group with legal action after it denied three clients permits to install solar panels. He filed a claim against the city of Torrance after it rejected another client's application. In all four cases, Bartz said, he prevailed.

Homeowners' main defense is the Solar Rights Act, adopted by California in 1978 to protect consumers' right to install solar energy technology. The law makes it difficult for homeowners groups to reject solar energy equipment unless it creates a safety hazard or a modification can be made without great cost.

Now, solar advocates are pushing for a federal version of the California law. Energy legislation that moved through the House earlier this year included a provision that would make it illegal for HOA rules, leases or private contracts to prohibit the installation of solar systems.

It's uncertain whether the Senate will keep the language in its version of the bill, said Raymond Walker, a government affairs spokesman for Standard Renewable Energy, a Houston-based solar installer. As debate continues, solar industry advocates are forming a lobbying group to make sure their voices are heard, Walker said.

Industry officials say fewer regulatory hassles would speed the growth of jobs and move the nation closer to energy independence, he said.

"We want to make this into a real industry, and we're trying to make sure the regulatory landscape is clear so this can take off," he said.

Homeowner and commun- ity groups haven't taken a position on the bill yet. Commun- ity Associations Institute, an education and advocacy group based in Alexandria, Va., said such "green issues" arise regularly in the estimated 300,000 community groups nationwide.

The institute advises striking a balance between conservation and aesthetics, said spokesman Frank Rathbun.

Advocates say those who invest in alternative energy should be applauded instead of punished. They ultimately benefit ratepayers by reducing demand on the state's grid, said Adam Browning of Vote Solar, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes the use of solar energy.

"It's somebody doing their part to reduce peak load," Browning said. "That's the most expensive electricity utilities have to buy."

California two years ago launched a $3.3-billion effort to increase the use of solar statewide, offering rebates and tax credits to consumers who install energy systems. Since then, the number of homes and businesses with installed solar has more than doubled, growing from 23,000 in 2006 to 52,700, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The cost of small solar systems declined 9% in the last year and larger installations have fallen 13%, the PUC said in an October report. Still, the state is far from being on track to its goal of adding 3,000 megawatts in solar panels by 2016, sufficient to power 600,000 homes.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Optare leads the way - Low Carbon Buses

Earlier today, Optare showed the prime minister, Gordon Brown its Solo EV, which the firm says is the UK's first practical electric bus. This follows today's announcement of £30m from the Government to encourage the use of low carbon buses. "This is precisely the shot in the arm the bus industry needs to switch to low carbon buses," said Jim Sumner, CEO at Optare. He told the prime minister that the Solo EV is the first practical, fully electric and thus emission free bus available in Britain "and it can be ordered today and be on the streets very soon". Sumner said Optare is developing a range of advanced technology low carbon buses but none will beat the Solo EV for emissions performance.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Energy Diversity is key for securing Energy Security

Many countries and Governments that run them have woken up to the fact that energy supply needs to be cost effective and diverse. Many large corporations are now mixing their oil and gas strategies with renewables and heavily promoting their push. I am currently transiting through Terminal 5 and there is some heavy corporate positioning going on regarding the diverse energy models they are pursuing.

I happen to agree that the next 10 years will see a major jostling for position over energy resources - even more so than the past 10 years. Expect to see the likes of Russia, Iran , France, Germany , China and India all push for ways to capture some of the resources in the energy race. If the western world switches off its reliance of oil in the Middle East this will severely cause issues far cashflow in the region.

Energy Efficiency is becoming more important to everyone. I will expand with some recent articles later in the week to add a follow up to this premise that Energy Diversity is key for Securing Energy Security.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Deforestation - Amazon and South East Asia

Amazon Update...

Warming of the North Atlantic has led to drought and deforestation. The Hadley Climate Model - developed , run and used by the UK Met Office - predicts that global warming will increase the chances of further droughts in the Amazon by 50 per cent.
Logging in the Amazon continues to cause alarm with 1,250 sq miles (3,235 sq/km) lost in the last five months of 2007 alone.The effect is a depletion of the region's carbon reservoir's. Research by more than 40 instituitions during the 2005 Amazon basin drought shows that loss of vegetation released an extra 5 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere: more than the combined annual emissions of Europe and Japan. This reversed decades of carbon absorption.

South East Asia ...
Has the highest deforestation rate of all three rainforest regions.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Feed In Tariffs the way forward

In Germany, a "feed-in tariff" law was passed in 2000 that required utility companies to subsidize solar energy producers by buying their electricity at favourable rates. The law led to rapid development in photovoltaic technology despite the generally cloudy weather in Germany. Large solar energy companies and a smaller cottage industry were created where solar energy is sold back to utility companies through the electric grid at a profit. Around 90% of solar energy production in Germany is grid-tied while 10% is off-the grid. Feed-in tariff laws have been passed in other countries, and led to growth in the development and use of solar panels for energy generation.

The UK is looking at introducing an updated scheme in April 2010. Once in place the up take should be reasonably steady. Particularly as the UK is heading towards energy shortages over the nezt 5-10 years.

On a seperate note ...could our electrical grids be looking forward to large interruptions?

According to a report from Hawaii -
For the full 11 year period of Solar Cycle 24 (approx. 2008-2019) the Earth will be vulnerable to any Coronal Mass Ejections directly aimed at it from the sun. The risks of solar storms bombarding the Earth and repeatedly taking down the electrical grid for extended periods has never been greater. In addition to physical and health risks posed by extensive and repeated electrical blackouts, the economic costs would be enormous. Now is the best time to take preventative action and develop off-the-grid (stand alone) energy systems using renewable energy sources.

In addition to solar and wind energy generators, there are other renewable energy sources that can be used to develop off-the grid systems.

Anticipating major disruptions to the electric grid system around the year 2012 requires developing an off-the grid energy system using renewable energy sources. An off-the grid system can be used in conjunction with a grid-tied generation system to assist with development costs.

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