Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Clean energy’ tag

Should China Award Subsidies to US Clean Energy Firms?

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One way for us to boost domestic clean energy production is to enact protectionism that excludes foreign firms from receiving U.S. government grants, as was discussed in a post earlier this year. Another way is to urge others, namely China, to open their economies further so that U.S. firms can earn Chinese government grants.

US wants China to reciprocate green energy subsidies

(AFP) – Nov 15, 2010

SHANGHAI — US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Monday China should allow foreign companies to qualify for its subsidies aimed at encouraging renewable energy projects.

Chu said foreign firms, including Chinese companies, qualify for US clean energy subsidies but barriers, such as Beijing’s local content requirements, exclude US companies from receiving government help in China.

“The United State recognises the right of China to give subsidies just as we use subsidies… but in the United States, we make a point of including all industries,” Chu told reporters on a visit to Shanghai.

“We would ask China to consider the same reciprocity, namely if a foreign company wants to come to China to set up manufacturing and production that it would be open to the same kind of help,” he said.

Read the entire article here.

Natural Gas Could Ease the Path to a Low-Carbon Future

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Even Worldwatch is getting on board that natural gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel, is a useful transition towards a cleaner future for our energy consumption.

I like it.

The Worldwatch Institute has launched an initiative designed to explore and communicate the potential of natural gas, renewable energy, and energy efficiency to work together to build a low-carbon economy.  The project provides a forum to examine potential environmental, social, and political obstacles that must be addressed if natural gas is to accelerate, rather than delay, a low-carbon energy transformation.  Partnering with leading NGOs, academic institutions, industry, and the public sector, the initiative will propose needed actions, with a focus initially on the United States. The initiative will later focus on energy policies internationally, in particular in India, China, Europe and Africa.

Read the entire article here.

Over 100 Student Body Presidents Urge Congress to Support Energy Education

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Teryn Norris

Director, Americans for Energy Leadership

Posted: April 28, 2010 03:59 AM

A group of more than 100 university and college student government presidents submitted a letter (PDF download) today urging Congress to launch a national program for clean energy science and engineering education. The presidents – representing more than one million American students -warned Congress that advanced energy education is critical for U.S. leadership in the global clean energy industry.

Read the entire article here.

Forests at center of clean-energy debates

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Similar discussions are being held in British Columbia and the western U.S. where millions of acres of forest have been destroyed by the mountain pine beetle. Burning the wood in electricity plants is one possibility. Others are arguing in favor of fermentation, converting them to ethanol and other biofuels.

The standing dead trees pose serious fire danger, and while fire is a natural and necessary part of the forest life cycle, many people argue that the pine beetle is a pest basically introduced, or at least encouraged or enabled, by humans, and thus these particular fires would not be naturally occurring, so the trees should be cleared to diminish the risk of fire.

That debate in itself is a tough issue, but it’s not the only one.

In terms of building biorefineries, my main concern would be the infrastructure necessary to process the timber. In BC, people in the school of forestry at the University of British Columbia estimate feedstocks for about five years of production. This is timber over and above the usual use of timber for construction and paper, whose industries either cannot use the beetle-killed trees or simply do not have the capacity to process the volume of timber that would still be usable for their purposes. Five years after spending the tens of millions of dollars to build the refineries, what would become of them? And what would become of the forests that had previously stood there? Many fear the expenditures would induce the continued use of this land for similar purposes, accelerating the pace and vastly increasing the surface area of land that, instead of existing on a natural ecological cycle, it will be existing on our cycle and for our purposes.

This brings us to the question in the second paragraph below regarding the use of stumps or saw dust versus fresh cut trees. Those stumps and other so-called ‘residues’ or, in agriculture, ‘waste’ products, serve important functions in maintenance of soil quality, biodiversity, and other ecological functions. Removing that biomass is not a kind act of cleaning up after ourselves in the forest; it’s robbing the land of more of the biomass that it needs in order to function.

I realize this is verging on a pretty idealistic or naive rant, so I’ll end here. The point is that we need to consider carefully some of these very un-conservative proposals.

Apr 3 – McClatchy-Tribune Regional News – Bruce Henderson The Charlotte Observer, N.C.

Environmental and green energy advocates are challenging Duke Energy’s plans to burn wood in two of its coal-fired power plants, saying efforts to meet a new clean-energy standard could hurt the state’s forests.

North Carolina’s millions of acres of woods are expected to fuel much of the renewable energy the 2007 law mandates. But should power plants be fueled by stumps, sawdust and old two-by-fours, or freshly cut trees?

Read the entire article here.

Should the U.S. compete or cooperate with China on clean energy?

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Here’s an editorial following up on and article posted earlier regarding Secretary Chu’s announcement that the U.S. invest US$37.5 million to cooperate with China on clean energy research.

Wind turbines are seen at the Da Bancheng Wind Farm in Xinjiang, China, last year as Beijing pushes companies to produce more renewable energy.
By Elizabeth Dalziel, AP

Amid recent studies suggesting the United States is losing the clean energy edge to China, the U.S. Department of Energy is helping fund a joint research center.

On Monday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $37.5 million in U.S. funding over the next five years for the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, to be located at existing facilities in both countries. The Center will focus on energy efficiency, clean vehicles and carbon capture from coal plants.

Read the entire article here.

High Hopes for Clean-Energy Jobs

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The U.S. could add hundreds of thousands of jobs if Congress requires that part of the nation’s electricity be derived from renewable sources, according to a study released Thursday.

The study, by Navigant Consulting, said a renewable-energy standard requiring utilities to produce between 20% and 25% of their energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources would create between 191,000 and 274,000 jobs.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

February 5th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy

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More news about China. There are many arguments, many of which I agree with, claiming that increased government intervention stifles innovation and an effective free market. Yet, in terms of energy, the world leaders are probably Germany and China, socialist and communist countries, respectively. How can this be?

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

As China takes the lead on wind turbines, above, and solar panels, President Obama is calling for American industry to step up.

Published: January 30, 2010

TIANJIN, China — China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.

China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

Written by Jason

February 1st, 2010 at 4:15 pm

NREL study shows 20 percent wind is possible by 2024

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If U.S. energy consumption were reduced by 30% by 2020, this same amount of wind power generation would account for nearly 30% of our energy use. It will take investment in our transmission grids that ensures this electricity is transported efficiently, but with the savings in overall energy costs, these expenditures are more easily covered, moving us closer to that goal of having plenty of natural gas and coal for many, many generations to come.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS) January 20. This unprecedented two-and-a-half year technical study of future high-penetration wind scenarios was designed to analyze the economic, operational, and technical implications of shifting 20 percent or more of the Eastern Interconnection’s electrical load to wind energy by the year 2024.

“Twenty percent wind is an ambitious goal, but this study shows that there are multiple scenarios through which it can be achieved,” said David Corbus, NREL project manager for the study. “Whether we’re talking about using land-based wind in the Midwest, offshore wind in the East or any combination of wind power resources, any plausible scenario requires transmission infrastructure upgrades and we need to start planning for that immediately.”

Read the entire article here.

Switching on Colorado’s clean energy industry

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This is indeed good news. It’s just another reason why I’m proud, once again, to call Colorado my home. (Yes, I do have a CO birth certificate, but have not yet adorned my Subaru with a “Native” bumper sticker.) If Jim Welch, CEO of Louisville-based Bella Energy Inc. and president of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, is correct in stating that “there are 10,000 jobs linked to the solar industry in Colorado, and 70,000 direct and indirect jobs dealing with all renewable industries,” these are prime examples of how renewable energy is a driver, not an obstacle, to continued economic health.

Friday, January 1, 2010
The Decade in the DBJ: Switching on Colorado’s clean energy industry
Denver Business Journal

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the Denver Business Journal is revisiting some of the biggest business-news stories
of the last 10 years.
Here, we look at the growth of the renewable-energy industry in Colorado, a development that could transform the state’s traditional
energy economy. (And click here to share your picks for the biggest business news of the last decade.)
The story: Colorado has long been a center of “new energy” research, as home of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in
Golden and other facilities. Also, its abundant sunshine and steady high-plains winds make its potential for solar- and wind-power
development among the highest in the nation.
The state’s renewable energy sector has grown rapidly since 2004, when Colorado voters passed a measure mandating that more
electricity come from the sun and the wind. In particular, progress toward making Colorado a clean-energy center gathered steam in 2007
and 2008.
A key development was when Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, decided to make Colorado its major U.S.
factory center. In 2007 it broke ground on a manufacturing plant for wind-turbine components in Windsor and then announced plans for
two more plants in the state. And the company’s suppliers said they would follow Vestas to Colorado.

Click here for the entire article.

Written by Jason

January 1st, 2010 at 6:00 am

GE Chief Hopes Copenhagen Leads to US Clean Energy

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Here’s another great example of leaders in industry not being afraid of an economy based on cleaner energy, but embracing it.

GE chief Jeffery Immelt hopes Copenhagen climate conference leads to US clean energy policy

GREENVILLE, S.C. December 8, 2009 (AP)

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt said Tuesday he hopes the Copenhagen conference on climate change leads the United States to develop a green energy policy to grow the economy.

“What’s most important for the U.S. is that we go from Copenhagen, go into 2010, and have the courage to act on clean energy for the good of the country from the standpoint of creating jobs,” Immelt told a conference on renewable energy.

More than 100 national leaders from around the world are meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to try to craft an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases and stem climate change.

Immelt told a meeting on renewable energy at Clemson University that within five years, 10 million new green jobs will be created worldwide.

Read the entire article here.