Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hot New Energy Car Action

There's a freaking mother load of innovation going on out there, especially in the Golden State. Check out this round-up and then check out Aptera and Tesla in depth. The auto times will soon be a-change-n my friends.

Cars and Buildings to Marry

Picture if you can cars running on the excess power produced by buildings. The dots that would frame this picture are beginning to pop up, and they're begging to be connected. One dot is Dynamic Architecture's wind powered skyscraper planned for Dubai.

Another is Ferreira Construction's 45,000 SF solar powered warehouse that might be the first U.S. net zero commercial building (net zero: producing more power than used). Pair these buildings with the Plug In Hybrid movement, put outlets in their parking spaces, and you start to get a picture of the marriage that might be made between cars and buildings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Wind Coalition

In response to a comment I made about the tens of Gigawatts of wind power installed in Germany and Spain, a blustery Texan noted that 4 Gigs up already, and lots more coming, his state alone eclipses both Britain and Greece. He commented that once Texans see themselves in a competition (see: Football, Rodeo, pride), they won't rest till they win it. The Wind Coalition site is a good place for tracking progress in South Central US, including the mighty TX.

World Gone Schitzo on Wind Power

WTF alert: what do you want? Do you want a world of landscapes free of windmills but with oceans rising, higher temps and more powerful storms and blackouts galore? Or do you want the same bad scene world but with power to get you through all those dark and stormy nights. Seems like our race is split about 50/50 on this. IMHO we're not going to stop climate change through half hearted actions over the next 20 years. It's coming no matter what we do and don't do. But we can keep energy flowing and maybe even crank a few more hundred more Gigawatts out of all that stormy weather if we choose right. See here.

News Just in: Google to Save World with New Energy

This comes as quite a relief as it didn't look like any one organization was willing to save the entire world. Google says its going to power San Francisco first with one Gigawatt's worth of solar and wind power and then see what it can do from there. Some folks will see this as idealism and a waste of Googlebucks that could be put to better use taking over all the online advertising in the galaxy. Me, I applaud each and every step towards new energy implementation. Go Google Go !!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hard Decisions: Make 'em Now

I'd like to have all oil and coal plants immediately replaced by levitating maglev solar windfarms powering the grid and fueling our all-hydrogen fleet of cars and trucks. But you know what, we don't get to have that yet. We may not get that for a long time. What we need now is time to stay afloat while the new tech is being developed. And some increased energy production that don't exacerbate the human component to climate change ... to the extent we understand it. See this article on a Colorado community grappling with solar and nuclear energy.

Using current technology, we can't build nearly enough renewable technology to replace coal and oil. That's true for us, and it's true for China and India. So in most cases, either/or choices don't exist. We've got to build both sustainable new sources to push those capabilities to the next level, even if we don't get much from it yet. But we've got to build real capacity too, and since there's a choice, we shouldn't make the worst one, i.e., traditional coal or oil fired power. New nukes keep us in the game long enough to discover, design and build what we're all looking forward to: what comes next.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good Day Sunshine

I was just pawing through the current version of Popular Science and noticed their first Best of What's New (BOWN) Green Tech category. The winner of which this year is Silicon Valley based NanoSolar. Ironic, perhaps, in that there ain't no silicon required in their design, and that's the beauty of their creation. Far cheaper to make and move and install, this stuff is a true green energy game changer. Check out the PopSci article here, and here's NanoSolar's site.

Watts up with the Volt?

Autovaporware or really in the production pipeline ... is the GM / Chevy Volt still on track for 2010? You be the judge. Nice piece here at Autoblog. CEO says yes. Good God they're going to HAVE TO BUILD IT.

I'll Take Climate Change Linkage for 50, Alex

Here's a nice write-up on the recent Presidential Forum on Global Warming at the group blogging site, Celsias. Personally, I'm in the better-safe-than-sorry mode on the human contribution to global warming. We not be able to change a thing through our actions. Or we make it worse if we don't change our ways soon ... or soonish. We are working with lots of partial information on this problem, and we may never understand all the mechanisms that are playing a part. But if the draft solution to the perceived problem involves getting us out of oil and into better means of energy production fast, I'm all for it. Seems like each of candidates know how to articulate bold visions for bringing new energy online with urgency. Got to keep an eye on this, and that that connection alive.

Oil Hit $99 a Barrel Today

With oil this expensive and going higher, so much is possible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The End of not talking about the End of Oil

I mentioned to my PT blog buddy the other day how we wouldn't need or want to talk about the why's that are the catalysts for talking about new and better forms of power. Said that would all be obvious to anyone thinking about this stuff so by the time they got to this address there'd be no need for persuasion, on that topic of the need at least. So, I'm sorry, but a recent series of articles in the WSJ and Wired have caused me to reverse and link to More Evidence We've Entered the End of Oil here. The point I took away isn't about the fundamental drivers involving rising demand and stagnating if not declining supply. It's about urgency. About how little time may be left to grow up some of these new technologies. You think solar can go large scale in 10 years? How fast can we double or quadruple nuclear capacity? Wind/water ... what else is there that's going to be ready to stand in when oil just isn't dependable any more.

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Beyond Bush"

The 15 November 2007 edition of the journal Nature raises a question almost too tantalizing to bear: what happens with climate and energy policy once GWB's administration is outta here?

I wonder which way this will play out. While Bush might have revived his image and salvaged his historical reputation by crafting aggressive policies to deal with climate and energy in his second term, and while he did appear to be moving in this direction if the last two State of the Union addresses, and made moves towards investment in hydrogen tech and biofuels, he still seems to be largely tied to the status quo mast. That means that US inaction to date is all his fault. So what happens when he's gone? What if we learn that a President Giuliani or Clinton or Obama can accomplish little more than their tongue tied, oil industry predecessor?

A charismatic leader can sometimes unite a nation into swift and unified action (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse), and we may get such a leader. But the scope of the challenges is so enormous ... this is such a very large ship to turn ... that it may take more than one or two 4-year terms before progressive thinking get implemented as tangible action. How much time, from a climate change perspective, from an energy security perspective, from an economic perspective, do you think we really have? Do you know which candidate would do the most? Do you know which candidate could to the most? The clock is ticking ... and it's twelve months till November ...

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Changing Tech vs. Changing Humans

I feel a Siskel (RIP) and Ebert moment coming on. Thesis post sounds right, but I have a lot more confidence in science paving the way for new modes of energy generation than in somehow coaxing/ prodding/ convincing/ persuading/ beating humans into doing the right thing in time to save themselves, a majority of the remaining species, and a good chunk of the habitats and systems everything needs to survive. Transitional, incremental technologies like hybrid cars are being purchased by the small percentage of the US population that: a) can afford them, and b) understands their benefits. The rest of the driving population either can't play along or doesn't even get it. It's going to take extraordinary technical advances so game-changing that for 95% of the population adoption is a no brainer. Until then the benefits will be so marginal, that as the Thesis thesis goes, we won't get out of the woods in time. I give 100+ mpg (equivalent) electric cars available at a good price in the next couple of years two thumbs way up.

New Energy Thesis

Thesis: What is needed most in transitioning to a new energy order, is not so much a search for new technological solutions, but rather the will to quickly and broadly adapt what is here now to secure energy independence and, in fact, our way of life.

We have adequate resources to make the transition. It is as if we are trapped in the wilderness with enough food to get out, but only if we grasp that we are trapped and without infinite supplies, and therefore act decisively to get out.

The carbon energy economy offered a wonderful stepping stone to a better place. We need to step. The viable technologies of wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power and others need to be evaulated in a broader financial model than the marketplace, considering the significant external costs related to health, energy dependence, climate change, and other issues, and the exacerbation of the impacts of these issues with the passage of time. If we do, it will be easy to develop the will to use the extraordinary discretionary wealth we now have (but do not have indefinitely) to use the stepping stone and avoid being trapped to wither and die.