Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
It's not a clear slam dunk due to current lease cost differences and evolving maintenance cost factors such as battery pack replacement frequency and costs and marginally higher costs for some parts. But if the anecdotal evidence in this article is correct, it appears they may have reached break even with gas at $3.00 and may be moving into clear increases in profitability at $3.50 and above.
I remember thinking a while ago that this is where we'd see it first. In the non-stop, stop and go daily grind of urban taxi companies, where hybrids' regenerative braking gains and low fuel burn in traffic would give them a big advantage. Acquisition and maintenance costs are the downside, while ever rising gas prices create the upside. Next steps are maturation of gas hybrids and the appearance on the NY Taxi test track of plug-in hybrids and full electrics.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
- Carbon trader
- Corporate climate strategist
- Green recruiter
- Environmental banker
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
At this rate, we'll be well into in the upper 300s for a barrel by the end of 2008. That alright with you? Still interested in who's taking the early lead in the American League East? Who's looking hot on American Idol? Which Democratic candidate dodged the MSM People Magazine-esque questions more successfully tonight? Still want more horses under that hood?
I'm writing from Harrisburg, PA tonight where the price of a gallon of gas is $3.35 and diesel is well over 4 bucks. The Renewable Energy technology advocate in me is ecstatic. But this kind of a price climb scares me. This isn't how it's supposed to play out. It can't keep going up like this, right? Right ???
Sunday, April 13, 2008
To my mind it's like the price of gas at the pump. As it goes up and stays up, it hurts everyone in every business (except the Saudis that is). But while it's a bit of a cliche, the good thing with adversity is it almost always creates opportunity.
Day lays out his four main trends, with a bit of a tilt towards doom and gloom here. I'm looking forward to a day, years from now, when Day's companies are kicking such major ass that it's the old energy companies' stocks that are both gloomy ... and doomed.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
- the higher the LEED rating, the better the energy performance
- there are wide disparities between modeled (predicted) and actual performance
- labs and other buildings with high process loads use twice as much energy as predicted
This study plows new ground and moves in the right direction. But future studies should show conclusive justification for LEED in the cost arena. If LEED is conclusively justified, it's a no-brainer. If a no-brainer, everyone will design and build according to LEED tenets, so that the need for LEED, and the corresponding costs to administer it, go away.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Screw the Kennedy's and the other Cape Wind naysayers who don't want to see 1.5" turbines 3 miles offshore from their luxury compounds. With this technology the turbines can be so far offshore you won't even be able to see them with the Hubble telescope.
Play along, and "the economics of the power industry are approaching a tipping point that will drive rapid adoption of floating turbines." Tipping is what we're trying to achieve, and avoid, at the same time.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Well, at least there's coal you were going to say. There's tons of it (no pun intended) and the US has a Saudi-like portion all to itself. And the good thing about coal is that it's always been cheap, and always will be cheap. Unfortunately, that last statement is only half right. Those self same experts reporting on oil prices in the WSJ have an increasingly similar tale to tell about coal: demand is higher than supply and that, among other things, is making it expensive as well.
Right about now we sure could use some good old fashioned cold fusion.
Monday, April 7, 2008
My own state Massachusetts, despite all the hot air billowing from our portly and pretentious pols, never mind the steady ocean breezes, has barely 1 MW installed and signs of improvement are slim. Oh well, maybe I'll move. Or maybe I'll start raising a ruckus and getting some action going up here in the Northeast. If we're going to get away from dino-fuels, renewables installations need to become the new gridiron competition among states. Give me a W - I - N - D !!!!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
For more information on different forms of tidal power, check out this site which has some pretty cool pictures.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Each M-1 Abrams tank requires a substantial support convoy of tankers and maintenance trucks, all of which are burning gas at a amazing clip. Check out these stats from AP:
Overall, the military consumes about 1.2 million barrels, or more than 50 million gallons of fuel, each month in Iraq at an average $127.68 a barrel. That works out to about $153 million a month
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
This article from HybridCars.com does some digging and follows up on a recent NPR story on the same theme: where the hell are the hybrids from the US auto makers? GM is going out of its way to convince folks with advertising that it is now a green minded company, and that its 2010 Volt is going to save humanity ... and maybe the company. But guess what none of the Big 3 are actually doing? That's right ... they are not building hybrids. As much as it hurts the nostalgic patriotic side of me to say it, stupid companies deserve to die and these guys are queuing to see which one is going to walk the plank first. Fools 365 x 24.
Monday, March 31, 2008
New Orleans - Despite oil prices that hover around $100 a barrel, it may take at least 10 or more years of intensive research and development to reduce the cost of solar energy to levels competitive with petroleum, according to an authority on the topic.
Solar can potentially provide all the electricity and fuel we need to power the planet, Harry Gray, Ph.D., scheduled to speak here today at the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). His presentation, Powering the Planet with Solar Energy, is part of a special symposium arranged by Bruce Bursten, Ph.D., president of the ACS, the world's largest scientific society celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Beckman Scholars Program.
"The Holy Grail of solar research is to use sunlight efficiently and directly to split water into its elemental constituents, hydrogen and oxygen, and then use the hydrogen as a clean fuel," Gray said.
In his talk at the ACS Presidential Symposium, Gray cited the vast potential of solar energy, noting that more energy from sunlight strikes the Earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on the planet in one year.
The single biggest challenge, Gray said, is reducing costs so that a large-scale shift away from coal, natural gas and other non-renewable sources of electricity makes economic sense. Gray estimated the average cost of photovoltaic energy at 35 to 50 cents per kilowatt-hour. By comparison, other sources are considerably less expensive, with coal and natural gas hovering around 5-6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Because of its other advantages, being clean and renewable, for instance, solar energy need not match the cost of conventional energy sources, Gray indicated. The breakthrough for solar energy probably will come when scientists reduce the costs of photovoltaic energy to about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, he added. "Once it reaches that level, large numbers of consumers will start to buy in, driving the per-kilowatt price down even further. I believe we are at least ten years away from photovoltaics being competitive with more traditional forms of energy."
Major challenges include developing cheap solar cells that work without deterioration and reducing the amounts of toxic materials used in the manufacture of these cells. But producing low cost photovoltaics is only a step in the right direction. Chemists also need to focus on the generation of clean fuels at costs that can compete with oil and coal.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Net metering needs to be everywhere and it needs to be easy. Thirty five states currently allow net metering, and it is required with the passage of the 2005 Energy Act.
In Texas this week, the Public Utility Commission held off on enacting net metering regulations because of public concern that the rules being considered wouldn't really promote net metering. Take some time to get the rules right, but get net metering out there.
The rules should make it easy to net meter at your house. If special meters and disconnects are needed, the utility should provide them cheerfully, without cost, to the on-site power producer (distribute those costs across all users, maybe). If utilities are reluctant to implement, fearing they'll lose revenue if they're not the ones making the power, create pricing mechanisms where utilities profit by re-selling home-grown power. (You'd think utilities could find a way to make money when others are funding the added power plants, especially if those plants make peak use power).
Given the manifold benefits of distributed energy, we need net metering to be easy and profitable for both utility companies and the new power producers.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
These things could play a major part in a classic pincer maneuver on old energy use as renewables put pressure on coal plants from one side, while super-efficient materials dramatically reduce new buildings' energy requirements.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
- Can monitor a network consisting of up to 20 single phase GT inverters
- Wi-Fi/Ethernet module with 10/100 Base-T or 802.11 b/g
- Can be configured to send energy and alarm reports via email
- Graphical interactive solar monitoring software
- Embedded web page for configuring the Gateway and upgrading inverter firmware 16 megabytes of storage
Monday, March 17, 2008
The turbines use the movement of water in oceans and rivers, and can even operate in both directions to take advantage of tides coming in and going out.
If you're near an ocean, a river, even a man-made channel, Verdant wants to know if your water can make energy. They ask you to complete a survey to help them assess the water's potential.
What do they need?
- 30 feet of water
- 4 knots average water speed
- 5 acres
If you just want to see the "dive-through" animated video, go here.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The piece ends with this sweet prediction for progressive-minded greedy bastards everywhere:
A McKinsey Global Institute report presented at the summit says that major investments over the next decade in energy productivity -- the level of output achieved from the energy consumed -- could earn double-digit rates of return for investors.
I see the greening of Gordon Gecko.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
As GM Vice President Bob Lutz asks, "If we get lithium-ion to 300 miles, then ... Why do you need fuel cells?"
The near term solution is the all-electric or the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The vehicle technology is here. The energy infrastructure (the electrical grid) is here. The near term future is here.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Anyway, as the NYT reports today, this price sure is stirring up a lot of action, both on the good side (renewables R&D) and the evil sides (Exxon pledged greatly increased exploration and development of new oil resources today ... cause it would be worth it !)
Despite the pain this blogger feels at the pump, if this is what it takes to get us: a Tesla, an Aptera, a Volt and the Automotive X Prize, then I say, standing proudly on my own carrier deck of justice, "Bring it On !!!" How about $200 a barrel? How about a million bucks? Then we could call oil a collectible, or make jewelry out of it, and drive our cars and economy with wind, sun or nuclear-boosted electrons instead.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Robert Myers - Columbia, Mo.
USA TODAY's story on plug-in hybrid electric cars raises a number of good points about the tradeoff in pollution.
But the article fails to mention an approach that has many plug-in hybrid advocates excited — using solar panels in the parking lots of companies or other institutions to charge the cars during the day while the owner is working. No battery storage for the solar panels is needed because the cars are providing the batteries. This approach is quiet, less polluting than coal and would allow employers to become part of the energy solution.
I plan to offer solar charging for my employees as soon as the technology is available.
Posted at 12:10 AM/ET, February 29, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
But it won't. The city will be car-free.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
On September 1, 2003 Brooklyn Brewery because the first NY City company to switch to 100% wind generated electricity. The company's brewery and corporate HQ are 100% powered by Newwind Energy, a product of Community Energy Inc.
Here's the link to Community Energy, purveyor off all things wind including RECs (renewable energy credits) companies like Brooklyn Brewery can purchase when they can't actually stick a turbine on their front lawns. Can you imagine the new turbines required if Bud and Miller went this way? I'd respect their companies a whole lot more if they did, though I still wouldn't drink their swill. Well, maybe when parched on a very hot summer day, and if the beer was really cold. OK, then I'd make an exception.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
"Mission Control, we have lift off". The WSJ reports that the wind power industry is a $6 billion business for GE this year, and they are far from the world's largest provider of turbines. Despite this great news, some folks apparently wish things were otherwise: see the comments that follow the blog. Seems there's some folks out there who believe wind and other types of non-fossil power exist only because the government is paying for them in the form of subsidies, and that once those funds run dry, the entire new energy economy will grind to a halt. Maybe when wind is a $100 billion business, more skeptics will be convinced. Then again, Kansas still doubts Darwin.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I'm eating an orange I picked from the tree in front of my parking space at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix. And I wonder, as I've often wondered, why not a bounty of trees in public and semi-public places offering their produce for the taking. The energy used to get that produce to the end user would be nothing. The cost to the end user would be nothing. The cost to the provider minimal. And the generous spirit engendered by the act would be, maybe, something.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
- Portland, OR
- San Francisco
- Eugene, OR
- Cambridge, MA
- Berkeley, CA
Transportation: New York City
Green Space: Chicago
Recycling: Lexington, KY
Is it is just a coincidence, or not, that these are all my favorite urban places in the USA?
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Short and mid term, coal plants are not going to disappear; they are going to change, however. And new ones likely will not be built in the numbers some in the industry had imagined. Put yourself in the place of investors considering placing their funds in a new plant. In Rumsfeld-speak, there are known knowns: carbon emissions are going to cost money; unknown knowns: don't know how much money yet; and unknown unknowns: how fast current electricity generating alternatives will be replaced by breakthrough clean energy alternatives we don't even know of yet.
You want to invest in a new coal plant? We definitely need the energy. But you've got a lot to think about these days before you lay your money down.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Bruce Graham, director of a wind education program in Concorida, Oregon notes, "I could go out on the Internet and find 500 jobs...that are open and they want someone right now."
Requirements: technicians with a "working knowledge of mechanics, hydraulics, computers and meteorology with the willingness to climb 200 feet in the air in all kinds of weather."
Wonder how much you're bagging if you're working overtime installing this 7 megawatt wonder in the Gulf of Mexico some dark and stormy night:
Saturday, February 2, 2008
On the pages of this morning's edition of the Dallas Morning News, the interesting juxtaposition of these two articles:
- Exxon profits break records again
- Turning green, Experts say help is needed to boost clean energy industry
The other article highlights a wind turbine blade manufacturing company setting up shop in Iowa to take advantage of the skilled workforce from a recently closed Maytag factory, and the thousands of "green collar jobs" that might be created here in America.The irony and the urgency is the fledgling renewables industry living on nervous borrowed time as its Production Tax Credits get ready to expire, while oil's tax breaks continue in place, even as it experiences record profits.
Oil should be allowed to profit unfettered as is the American Way, but it doesn't need help from taxpayers.
Friday, February 1, 2008
MIT's Technology Review highlights a Massachusetts' company's recent A-round funding after earlier grants from NASA and DOE. Read it for yourself and see if it sounds plausible. It appears to me (and skeptical others ... like VCs) that Nanoptek has found a way to piggyback on existing technology and manufacturing processes, move them a step further with the material Titania (borrowed from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream?) and now has a potential breakthrough on its hands. Perchance, will keep an eye on these guys for sure.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
RECs are a bit astract for some, but until demand expands dramatically, RECs are a transitional financial tool and a necessity. The following generation technologies qualify as producers of RECs:
- Low Impact Hydropower
- Fuel cells (only if powered by hydrogen produced by one of the above approved generators)
Let's see if Intel's bold move engenders competition not just among other high tech manufacturers, but Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies in every sector.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The scourge of this effort is the intermittent Production Tax Credit, set to expire again this year. Here's a graph from AWEA that paints a pretty crisp picture:
What would the graph look like if the Production Tax Credit were enacted to accomodate a longer business horizon, say ten or twenty years?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Don't want to be dark cloud, but raindrop power ?!? Need to charge your laptop ... or keep your fridge cold ... or recharge your electric car? Better commence a rain dance. I note this approach to point out that in our search for dramatic new ways to get away from coal and oil, there will be some "out of the box" projects that aren't going to make much sense. And we shouldn't spend any time on them once they've been demonstrated to produce too little energy to make an impact. Maybe I'm wrong, but I group rain power with dance floor and pedestrian foot step power in a long list of quirky ideas that could distract from otherwise constructive work in more potentially promising new energy fields.
Sorry, hope I didn't rain on anyone's parade.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Sometimes it's OK for attractive people to do things that are not necessarily related to their attractiveness. Not ones to rest on their laurels (so to speak), Brown grad and founder Jill Fehrenbacher and the women (and one guy) at Inhabitat.com have keen eyes for what's new and visually exciting in the alternative energy sphere. Check out their recent posts on energy developments here. These folks are tuned into the good stuff, so I've added them to the PowrTalk Tech Blogs sidebar cause I want to make it easy to check in on what they're writing about.
Monday, January 21, 2008
First, a statement of the obvious: Israel is not the United States. While gas here is high at $3 a gallon, it is well over $6 there. And another thing: the distances between its major cities can be measured in the dozens of miles, vs. our hundreds or thousands of miles.
So guess what? One way the two countries are very much alike is in their entrepreneurial spirit, and (depending on who's in charge) their support for bold new ideas and innovation. See today's NYT article about Israel's bold plan to move rapidly to electric cars and infrastructure. And for a little more detail on the young businessman/entrepreneur behind it all, see this recent Discovery Tech post on former SAP VP Shai Agassi.
You got to like it when our friends show us the way.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The same "ultra progressive" state that can't get Cape Wind built has just passed some seriously far reaching legislation paving the way for all kinds of clean energy improvements and energy conservation. Wind, solar, LEED buildings and cleaner auto's will all benefit. I have an idea, let's make it a national movement. How about if Mass joins hands with California to form a nationwide clean energy scrum, and anybody who slips through gets a heap of whoop ass from any one of Texas' ten thousand turbines !!!???