Monday, November 30, 2009

Cap and trade, tax or smart business

Discussions are taking place right now all over the world about what to do about CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The release of East Anglia emails is being touted as a blow to 'global warming' scientists. The fact that these scientists tried to protect their opinion is straight out of the Lee Atwater political book.


Bottom line is we live on a planet that has physical boundaries. We pump and mine our energy from the ground, if Earth was the size of Jupiter I would not be in the solar industry I would work for Exxon.

We have a FINITE source of energy TODAY. We do not have a viable alternative today, or tommorrow. If we do not create a market where massive investment in energy production is promoted we will see $10 a gallon gas, ever rising energy costs and a huge strain on the economy, with the possibility of protracted and deadly wars over the last reserves of fossil fuel.

US Oil production peaked in the 1970's, our use of fossil fuel has climbed every year since. Renewable energy production is the new arms race. We have to win this one, for us and for our kids.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Red flag on the horizon

Green energy: world's newest arms race

Just as the U.S. and China gave a welcome boost to upcoming climate talks, a cache of stolen e-mails was being used last week to discredit scientists who warn of global warming.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, called for an investigation into the e-mails written over 13 years by climate scientists and hacked from the Climate Research Unit at England's University of East Anglia.

An investigation would be fine, as long as it's an honest inquiry not just political grandstanding. The science on which policy is based should withstand tough scrutiny. And it looks bad that a prominent climate scientist considered undermining the peer-review process to stifle dissenting views.

The more telling development, though, by far, is China's intent to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. China announced plans to nearly halve the ratio of emissions to gross domestic product by 2020 and is aggressively pursuing that goal.

Unless Congress quickly gives U.S. business the necessary incentives and tools, China will corner the market on green energy.

Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently wrote that "the Chinese are treating the energy technology competition as if it were an arms race," outstripping U.S. investment in solar and wind technologies and the electric grid.

Despite the e-mail flap, scientific consensus and physical evidence point to a buildup of fossil fuel emissions that threatens to cause catastrophic changes in climate and sea levels.

But, for argument's sake, let's just say that's wrong.

The future still belongs to those who harness free and endless energy from sun, wind and geothermal and make the most efficient use of energy. Even if climate change is a myth, there are security, economic and environmental imperatives for changing our energy ways.

President Barack Obama said he will stop by the climate summit in Copenhagen as he travels to Norway to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize. Obama will offer a 17-percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. This is the plan the House approved while the Senate demonstrated its inability to walk (health care) and chew gum (energy) at the same time.

The Senate should quit dodging energy legislation.

The U.S. and Chinese goals fall short of what Europe is pledging and what island nations — which would suffer most from rising oceans — are demanding.

Defenders of the energy status quo will point out that China's emissions would still rise as its economy grows while Obama promises an absolute reduction in U.S. emissions.

China, with four times the U.S. population and less than a third of U.S. GDP, has vivid memories of mass starvation and says it must keep increasing GDP.

To ensure that China's growth doesn't come at this country's expense, the U.S. should commit itself to winning the green-energy race.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

India and Renewable Energy

India has more honor students than the USA has students.

Ambitious solar plans unveiled by India
New Delhi, India []

"Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift … to renewable sources of energy. In this strategy, the sun occupies centre-stage, as it should."

-- Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

One of the eight key National Missions which comprise India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, the so-called Solar Mission, launched under the brand name “Solar India” recommends a three phase implementation, leading to an installed capacity of some 20,000 MW in 2022.

The ambitious 2022 target of 20 GW or more will be dependent on the first two phases, which if successful, could lead to grid-competitive solar power by the end of the programme, MNES adds.

Already faced with crippling electricity shortages, prices of electricity traded internally have touched Rs 7/kWh (US cent 15/kWh) for baseload and around Rs 8.50/kWh (US cent 18.5/kWh) during peak periods, the country is also increasing the use of diesel-based electricity, which costs as high as Rs 15/kWh (US cent 32.6/kWh).

“It is in this situation the solar imperative is both urgent and feasible to enable the country to meet long-term energy needs”, observed Abdullah.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunpower messes up royally

Sunpower announced that any orders placed after November 13th will not be met before the end of the year. Yes we had a recession, slowdown and then a mad rush to get PV systems in by end of year but this really, really hurts MY credibility with clients if I say Sunpower is the best but we can't install them prior to end of the tax year.

The bright spot in this is we, again have a strong push by homeowners nationwide to put solar on their roofs the recession is officially over when PV which is not critical to your immediate well-being is being put in in these numbers.

Please, please, please, let the Volt be good

November 24, 2009, 8:23 am NYT
Answering Your Questions About the Chevy Volt

Last Friday, we solicited you for questions on the Chevrolet Volt, which is scheduled to be released late next year. We forwarded some of your questions to Lindsay Brooke, who recently drove a preproduction Volt and wrote about his driving impressions for the Automobiles section last Sunday.

Mr. Brooke is a journalist with three decades of experience and is the author of “Triumph Motorcycles in America” (Motorbooks, 1993) and “Ford Model T: The Car That Put the World on Wheels” (Motorbooks, 2008). He has written extensively on hybrid and electric cars for The Times and other publications. His answers to a selection of your Volt questions are below.

Q.How will the batteries react to really cold weather? When it is 20 degrees below zero my iPod only functions for about one-sixth of its normal time between charges.
— Patrick, Minneapolis

A.General Motors recently began an intensive cold-weather testing program for Volt at a dedicated winter-test facility in northern Canada, so there are no definitive answers yet. Stay tuned for more information on this program in the Automobiles section.

Q.Is there a firm retail release date, and if so, what is the true price range?
— M Dickerson

No details yet on the exact start of production, only that it’s later next year. Nor is G.M. yet talking about pricing details.

A.Let’s tackle these questions one at a time. First of all, the words “Volt” and “slug” are incompatible, based on my drive of the prototype. The car proved to be quite sprightly around the Milford course (which would make a fine road-racing circuit). It was genuinely fun to drive in both battery-only and extended-range modes.

Secondly, my test drive covered 27 total miles on the proving ground, including eight miles depleting the battery before the generator kicked in (of course, the generator will continue to provide power to drive the car until the gas tank runs dry). The purpose of my time in the car was not to prove total range, but rather to evaluate the generator’s engagement and related performance and noise, vibration and harshness.

Q.Do you envision the extended-range hybrid as a long-term product or merely a bridge to an all-electric future for passenger cars?
– Dave

A.I’ve been writing about automotive technology for major publications for nearly 30 years, and I’ve become a believer in the progress made by the auto industry in general regarding vehicle electrification. Yes, I think extended-range (also known as series-type) hybrids are an important, viable solution for the short- and mid-term, until an extensive charging network from the grid is established.

On the Road, Again

Demand for solar energy could be down as much as 17% on the year for 2009. This is the stark reality the industry is facing as it slowly emerges from the recession that has caused demand for energy across the world to drop for the first time in a half-century.

While this may put a damper on power industry growth in the short-term, long-term energy demand worldwide is expected to double by 2050 and with concerns about climate change on the rise, the prospects for the solar power industry remain bright.

In some ways, the recession may turn out to be a boon to the industry having allowed a number of companies that were, until recently, operating in stealth or R&D mode to strengthen their products and enter the market just as it's on the cusp of recovery.

DuPont Apollo has opened its silicon based thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturing facility in China. The 538,000 square foot manufacturing facility will have an annual capacity of up to 50 megawatts (MW) of modules that will be produced on a thin-film-on-glass PV module production line. Full-scale commercial production at the facility is targeted for the first quarter 2010.

"Through our work in this venture, DuPont will use its science to produce thin-film solar modules that can help make solar energy a more viable alternative for everyone."

-- David Miller, President, DuPont Electronics & Communications

In addition to providing innovative thin-film photovoltaic modules that are fully International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) certified, DuPont Apollo said that it plans to offer a total system solution focused on the China domestic market to help safeguard customers’ long-term investments in renewable power generation.

“Next generation solar technologies are a critical market opportunity for DuPont to deliver more secure, environmentally sustainable and affordable energy sources for people everywhere,” said David Miller, president of DuPont Electronics & Communications. "REworld article 11/09

It appears the downturn has caused most US manufacturers to shift production to, you guessed it China. Maybe its inevitable, we create and China builds. For the last 50yrs USA produced and slowly lost out to cheaper labor countries, who I am I to question progress, its all I am about. As long as good paying jobs are made here and profits return here I guess its ok.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good vets are hard to come by

I took my 12yr old beagle to the vet on a Sunday, she was messed up pretty bad and she had me scared. They were quick, friendly and efficient.

The Vet talked over my options, explained cost and let me decide on what to do. She could have any number of things but he had to do x & y to find out. When we got back later they were again quick, polite and thoughtful. I need to remind you all this was Sunday, I got there at 9am and now it was 1pm.

Molly had a puncture wound on her eye, we think we know what happened but either way she will live, be happy again but may lose her eye. She is an awesome dog, licks only when you need it and takes food from your hand like a surgeon. She likes to be petted but is just as happy sitting near you.

She will bark only to tell you "hey something isn't right. I used to let her sleep at the foot of my bed, but kids...marriage etc she became an outside dog.

Well she's in for two weeks and I intend to spoil her rotten. Happy thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting older

There was a time when I could party til 5am, go to a late night diner, eat and laugh to 6am, get up at 1pm and go do it again.

Last night we took my kids to see "2012" (absolutely awful, every cliche possible employed with no reason) my sister-in-law came over for dinner, we had a drink afterwards, by 9pm I was ready for bed. I was asleep before 10pm.

Leaving the theatre there was a huge line to see "Twilight" I have no interest in and am not aware of the phenom of this movie. And then it hit me, I am officially no longer young! I didn't realize it would happen just like that.

Has anyone else had this same single event let them know, hey you're not 30 anymore.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Coal Industry's $47 Million PR Spending Spree

— By Kate Sheppard | Fri November 20, 2009 3:00 AM PST
—Photo courtesy of America's Power website
The coal industry's major lobby group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, shelled out a stunning $47 million last year on lobbying, advertising and "grassroots outreach" efforts to fight climate legislation and tout the benefits of "clean coal." Its efforts to actually develop clean coal technology, however, were a lot less impressive.

ACCCE's most recent IRS filing, obtained by Greenwire (sub. req'd), lists the contributions to the coalition by the nation's biggest coal companies. Arch Coal Inc., Consol Energy Inc., and Peabody Energy Corp. each chipped in $5 million; Foundation Coal Corp. gave $3 million, Southern Co. $2.1 million, and American Electric Power Co. Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. (which has since left the group) gave $2 million. ACCCE is among the biggest spenders when it comes to influencing the debate on climate and energy.

But for all their expensive efforts to sell the public on the wonders of clean coal, ACCCE isn't working quite as hard to make the technology a reality. The coalition's members have committed the comparatively paltry sum of $3.6 billion to research the technology between 2003 and 2017, according to an April report from the Center for American Progress.

That's just $257 million on average each year to develop the technology to capture and sequester carbon. To put that in perspective, ACCCE's members made a combined total of $297 billion in profits between 2003 and 2008—meaning, as the report notes, that they're spending less than two cents on clean coal research for every $1 of profit.

In fact, the climate legislation that ACCCE fought—and fought dirty—to defeat in the House would devote far more money toward developing clean coal than the companies have. (Its "grassroots" efforts hit the news after one of its subcontractors, Bonner and Associates forged letters to Congress opposing a climate bill.) If the Waxman-Markey legislation becomes law, it would hand the coal industry $60 billion for so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) research and development through 2025.

The House measure provides an additional $1 billion each year for demonstration and deployment of this technology, to be funded by a fee on consumers. Plus, early adopters of CCS would get bonus carbon credits for every ton of carbon dioxide sequestered by electric utilities.

Yet just days after Waxman-Markey passed the House, a number of ACCCE's biggest funders were complaining to the Senate in public hearings that the bill doesn't give enough money to the coal industry.

They also griped that carbon capture and storage technology is more than a decade away from viability, so it would be unreasonable to demand big emissions cuts from the sector anytime soon. "I don’t think CCS will be widely deployed until 2020 or after," Chris Hobson, senior vice president of research and environmental affairs at Southern Company, told senators in July. You'd never guess that from the coalition's website though, which still proudly proclaims: "The technology isn’t 20 years away—some of it is here today."

US, China, win win.

November 18, 2009
The Emerging US-China Strategic Alliance on Clean Energy
by Louis Schwartz and Ryan Hodum, Contributors
Pennsylvania, United States

The bilateral relationship between the United States and China has begun to take on a more pragmatic and secure quality under the Obama Administration, a welcome contrast to the past, when the U.S. was mostly uneasy about the rise of China and China was often uncertain about assuming its emerging role as an economic and political center of gravity.

Though disagreements over the value of the Yuan, trade restrictions and human rights issues will continue to be present in the Sino-U.S. relationship, the exigencies of the worldwide economic downturn and the opportunities for cooperation in the development of a new energy future, are paving the way for a sustainable and productive bilateral relationship.

Renewable energy investments in the U.S. by the Chinese are but one side of the coin; on the other side are the enormous opportunities for American companies to participate as the Chinese spend some $2 trillion over the next 20 years to fundamentally restructure the way they produce and consume energy.

It is in this latter area — cooperation on clean energy development — that the Obama Administration already has laid a foundation that presages unprecedented opportunities for Sino-U.S. cooperation. President Obama’s meetings with the Chinese leadership this week give further impetus to the significant efforts by the two countries to forge a new energy future based on Shuang Ying the Chinese term for “win-win.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let the Sleeping Giant Wake

While we lag Germany in solar installs, and this is because Russia holds the keys to 80% of winter heating fuel for Europe, we are beginning to catch up with other nations in conversion to renewable energy (RE).

For me personally its depressing that the rest of the US is making huge investments in solar while South Carolina is still pretty much an off-grid and small residential state.

It should be every new home and business building in the state has to meet stringent energy efficiency code and have to have either solar thermal or PV. We should have a feed in tariff over 8yrs that stabalizes energy cost and provides investment security. Since there is no greater economy in the world, no greater military and no stronger political body than the USA, we could, thru sheer will power, affect these changes.

Europe is years ahead of us in building requirements. I have seen the spec home I live in, built in Minnesota and Arizona, this is crazy!

Like my good friend Bruce Wood says, "Those Germans might be a little smarter than us, but not that much."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nothing to do with solar, directly

This is Laura, she is my daughter. She is a great kid, she glows from the inside out. I want to create a world where Maslo's first heirarchy of needs is met for all, food, shelter and energy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The conumdrum

Oil and coal are amazing. They are the fuels of the modern world. I love the creature comforts we have today. Science and technology have improved life no-end. These are the issues we face. We want everything we have now and more, but the engine of these modern marvels is finite. All of us today should 'leave this mortal coil' before the feasibility of extracting enough fossil fuels becomes impossible.

Our kids won't and if we are not careful we will see the impact of this conumdrum in our lifetimes. When something is in high demand and limited supply we all know what happens, prices go up. When the availability of a commodity becomes so short that price cannot increase its availability and its supply is critical, people will do whatever it takes to get it. I do not want to see policy that leads us to determine if we can 'take' the necessary commodity, regardless of its location. It will not be like today or the last 8yrs it will worse, more protracted, more expense and many, many more lives lost.

This to me is the single most important thing in the world. We must have resources soon to off-set the lack of production from traditional energy sources, fossil fuel. While all the rhetoric about solar right now is correct, it is expensive in relation to coal, it takes an unknown storage source to utilize the energy 24hrs a day, we must invest heavily to remove these issues.

Never in human history have we not been able to overcome a challenge and use our ingenuity to create new and better ways to do things. That time has come, that time is now. It is incredibly exciting to think we are witnessing the birth of a whole new paradigm in energy production.

burnt hotdogs never tasted so good.

WV bridge day is an awesome event. Once a year they shut down the New river bridge and crazies jump off and hope their parachutes open before the river gets them.

My son and I recently went on a father son weekend outing and ended up here.

We camped, it snowed, burnt hot dogs never tasted so good before.

Sandwiched by progress

Suniva company of Atlanta GA, just announced 20% efficiency in its labs for PV cells. The first solar cells were outputting at 3% efficiency. So North Carolina has Sencera in Charlotte, Georgia has Suniva in Atlanta and South Carolina has...oh wait solar doesn't work in South Carolina.

This is what Sen. Paul Campbell of Berkeley County SC was quoted as saying two weeks ago! GA has a clean power program that buys at 18.31c a kwh, NC has a state wide program that buys at 15c a kwh and South carolina guessed it no state wide programs, we have the 13th best sun in the nation, its why we live here, but we aren't going to invest in mining our most abundant resource?!.

While hi-tech jobs are being created around us and around the nation South Carolina is sitting on the sidelines. I am thoroughly for oil, natural gas, safe nuclear etc. Just don't exclude the single fastest growing energy segment in the world. I love this State, my kids are native and so is my wife, the rolling hills of the midlands and upstate remind me of England, and Charleston is one of the most picturesque cities in the nation. Columbia has great weather, 310 days of sunshine (senator Campbell) and great people.

I recently did a talk at the IEEE chapter at USC electrical engineering dept. These are some bright, bright kids. Of the ones that expressed interest in solar research and devlopment guess how many are staying in state after guessed it, 0, nada, none. That is a depletion of the most important resource we have.

NC state tax credit for solar $2.5million, GA tax credit for solar $500,000 per install, SC tax credit for solar $35,000 over ten years. Call your representative or senator, tell them to bring renewable energy jobs to South Carolina now, we can't all work for Boeing.. yet. (please see earlier post)

I love capitalism

ExxonMobil Corp

Company Info
State or country Texas
Geographical Location Americas
Assets $228,052 mil
Revenues $425,071 mil
Profits $45,220 mil
Return on invested
capital (ROIC) 36.31%
3 yr CGR % Revenues 9.00%
Company data as of 10/22/2009 provided by Standard & Poor's Compustat

$45 BILLION DOLLARS, that is alot of money, no matter who you are. When you think this is their after tax profit and they retain 300+ of the best accountants in the world to reduce their exposure!
How much of that profit is being invested in their next generation transportation fuel portfolio? As far as I know Exxon invests less than Shell, BP and Chevron in mining directly from the sun.
Instead of waiting millions of years and digging up stored solar energy Exxon should be leading the way in energy research.

C'mon guys, we know you are some of the best and brightest do you have to think in quarters instead of family, country and future?

Solar's New Horizon

Despite a lackluster market in the US, some American companies lead the world in solar power. Spectrolab is one of those companies, with a whopping 60% of the extra-terrestrial market, (cell phone satellites) they have exceeded efficiencies again!

One day in the not too distant future, if we all invest in and demand investment in Solar energy, the sun will be the primary provider of energy for humanity and will give us an endless supply of energy.

Spectrolab, a Boeing subsidiary, has set yet another world record for terrestrial concentrator solar cell efficiency by designing a cell that converts 41.6 percent of concentrated sunlight into electricity. (2/2008)

The new record reinstates Spectrolab’s reputation as the leading company in high efficiency multijunction solar cells.

“This cell is an advanced version of our lattice-matched cell technology that will be incorporated quickly and successfully into our production line. This milestone underscores our emphasis on realizing the highest efficiency cells in high-volume production,” Spectrolab’s President, David Lillington, told Solar Buzz.

The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., independently tested the efficiency of the Spectrolab cell in June, validating that it surpassed the previous record of 41.1 percent held by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.

High-efficiency solar cells in concentrator systems require fewer cells to produce the same electrical output as conventional solar cells. They enable energy producers to generate more electrical power from typical industrial solar panels and pass on lower costs to homeowners, businesses and other end users.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oil crisis is hopefully 35yrs away

my thoughts on this evocative article.

A simple tax is favored by Oil companies so it is therefore suspect. It would also allow the Oil companies to pass the tax along directly to the consumer. Cap and trade limits emissions a tax does not, it only increases total cost to the consumer.

What was the reason for $147 a barrel? We were told it was the gulf hurricane katrina, Iraq, not enough refining capabilities etc. Only in 2008 was it Chinese high demand. I believe it was pure speculation to allow oil companies more profit (but I hope more R&D money with a mid-term view to extraction)

In a historical perspective man's technological achievements have out paced his consumption, remembering we have used oil for less than 150yrs and did ok prior to that. You point to recession as our only outcome? Pretty dire stuff, I too am concerned with Peak oil but when it all comes down to it money and 'credit' are arbitrary tools to enable us to live and prosper. The cost of any item in a modern society is dictated by its need.

Are cell phones that are basically mini computers and beam instantaneous signals to outer space via solar power really only costing $29.00??! Debt can be weapon in geo-political negotiations. If your predictions are right we will see movement away from oil as prices go up. Hydrogen is feasible now, its cost in relation to oil extraction is the sole barrier to market. I have seen a hydrogen combustion truck.

So we move to a hydrogen transportation infrastructure and re-value all currencies. Coal is good for 250yrs+ but has environmental issues. If we electrify personal transportation and divert investment into solar power we will eventually figure out a way to mimic every other living thing on the planet and mine the Sun.

More energy hits the earth in one hour than we use in a year. I am an optimist, Oildrum, you are a pessimist, lets hope I am right. If not then 2/3 of the civilized planet will suffer when the system fails because none of us can hunt, grow food, store food or purify water even if we could store it.

Solar's 2nd time around

Hi, my name is Andrew if you are here, welcome, its nice to share with you. So I tried blogging a few years ago, three to be exact, I sucked at it for the most part and had no direction, I am going to post those old blogs sometime in the near future to see what three years have done.

I can tell you what I have realized on my own. That being a good dad has completely sanitized me from any sense of humor I once had. As a single guy I enjoyed humor based almost exclusively around or for women. I have worked in bars and construction for a while so this kinda made sense.
I am not, nor ever have been a mysoginist it was more of a pedastal/idolization and admiration for all things female. So one thing was clear, once I had two great kids, that particular brand of humor was out for 16yrs minimum.

I grew up in England and have a reserved demeanour with an underlying core of adventurous, recklessness. So I was never really Jack the Lad or overly popular but I have always liked and got on with different types of people. I am a mutt when it comes to geneology, my mother is a Welsh/English girl from Coventry, England whose dad left her Mum in the 1940's. My dad is an athiest jew/avid reader/tv shouter/funny guy from New Jersey.

I have adopted my wife's religious leanings (United methodist) mainly because mine were too oblique to fit in any one category. With my mutt background I wanted to make sure the kids had a foundation of safety early on, as life typically tests you from time to time as you get older.
Being married its hard to spend your time honing your humor skills when the primary reason you have to be funny is to get your wife to marry you when she did that already.
I do have many interests, many, many interests, I could read about stuff, all day everyday if it paid. But it doesn't so I got into solar power because it was going to be the next big thing, but also because I am a student of history and history tells me we have to come up with a new energy source in order to continue to support 9billion people and modern society.
What my goal here is to let you know about me, my brand as I have just read in "Crush it" and learned about at a SC New Ideas conference, but at the same time let you know about the market potential, job growth, societal necessity of exploring and investing huge amounts of money in solar energy, it is our future. Thanks for stopping by and see you soon.