Tag Archives: energy

Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? – NYTimes.com

13 Mar

A group of scientists and energy analysts has laid out a path under which New York State could, in theory, eliminate its use of fossil fuels and nuclear power — including for transportation — by 2050. The graph above charts the contributions played by improved efficiency and adoption of renewable electricity sources as well as hydrogen fuel cells (with the hydrogen generated with renewable energy).

In particular, note this:

Rapid expansion of micro WWS [wind, water, sunlight] generation and associated decentralized infrastructure: rooftop solar, micro-wind, V2G, smart grids. These are mainly upgrades and additions to infrastructure, rather than replacement. And again, the correct evaluation basis is full social cost-benefit analysis over the entire physical lifetime, at near-zero discount rate.

via Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? – NYTimes.com.


Clean Technology on the Brink – NYTimes.com

19 Apr

…renewable energy generation doubled from 2006 to 2011, the first new nuclear plants in decades are under construction, and prices for solar, wind and other clean energy technologies have fallen while employment in those sectors has risen by 70,000 jobs even during a deep recession.

Those gains could all be lost unless the federal government at least temporarily renews and pays for a variety of subsidies and production credits that have supported those industries as they strive to compete with fossil-fuel based energy sources, the report states.

The study notes that the tens of billions of dollars from President Obama’s stimulus program are drying up, even as tax breaks that have supported wind and solar power generation are expiring. The result is an anticipated 75 percent decline in federal clean technology spending by 2014 from a peak of $44.3 billion in 2009.

via Clean Technology on the Brink – NYTimes.com.

America’s Fossil Fuel Fever | The Nation

10 Mar

The Obama administration is pursuing an energy policy that will just accelerate environmental destruction. Extracting oil and gas from unconventional sources (shale, tar sands, deep sea) is risky and uncertain, degrades the environment directly, and wastes energy and water in the process.

All drilling activity requires energy, which produces GHGs [greenhouse gasses]; producing unconventional oil and gas, however, usually requires far more energy than drilling for conventional fuels and so emits a correspondingly greater amount of GHGs.

Conventional oil and gas supplies are usually carried to the surface by natural forces once a well is drilled, whereas unconventional fuels are too dense to move by themselves (as in the case of tar sands) or are embedded in rock (as in the case of shale oil and gas) and so must be extracted using energy-intensive techniques. Hence, in addition to all the emissions we can expect from the prolongation of the fossil fuel era, we will experience a GHG increment from the growing reliance on unconventional hydrocarbons. Based on this sort of reasoning, the EIA calculates that global emissions of carbon dioxide will rise by 43 percent between 2008 and 2035, jumping from 30.2 billion to 43.2 billion metric tons. Such an increase will erase any hope of averting the apocalyptic consequences of planetary warming.

via America’s Fossil Fuel Fever | The Nation.

Fracking: The new front of Occupy – Environment – Salon.com

23 Jan

While most anti-fracking activists have been responding to harms already done, New York State’s resistance has been waging a battle to keep harm at bay. Jack Ossont, a former helicopter pilot, has been active all his life in the state’s environmental and social battles. He calls fracking “the tsunami issue of New York. It washes across the entire landscape.”

Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and scholar-in-residence at Ithaca College, terms the movement “the biggest since abolition and women’s rights in New York.” This past November, when the Heinz Foundation awarded Steingraber $100,000 for her environmental activism, she gave it to the anti-fracking community.

Arriving in the state last October, I discovered a sprawl of loosely connected, grassroots groups whose names announce their counties and their long-term vision: Sustainable Otsego, Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy, Gas-Free Seneca, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper. Of these few (there are many more), only the last has a paid staff. All the others are run by volunteers.

via Fracking: The new front of Occupy – Environment – Salon.com.

New York Denies Indian Point Plant a Water Permit – NYTimes.com

31 Aug

The battle is joined. It’s New York State vs. the Federal Government.

… the strongly worded letter from the Department of Environmental Conservation, issued late Friday, said flatly that Indian Point’s cooling systems, even if modified in a less expensive way proposed by Entergy, “do not and will not comply” with New York’s water quality standards.

It said the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species. The letter also said that radioactive material had polluted the Hudson after leaking into the groundwater.

via New York Denies Indian Point Plant a Water Permit – NYTimes.com.

The Pentagon’s attempt to greenwash the military – Pentagon – Salon.com

23 May

The Pentagon is America’s single largest consumer of energy. As such

…the fastest, most immediate and most efficient way for the Pentagon to mitigate the environmental crises that come from energy consumption is to simply move America away from its energy-draining policy of permanent war.

via The Pentagon’s attempt to greenwash the military – Pentagon – Salon.com.

How gas drilling contaminates your food – Sustainable food – Salon.com

18 May

Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cattle belonging to Don and Carol Johnson, who farm about 175 miles southwest of Jaffe. The animals had come into wastewater that leaked from a nearby well that showed concentrations of chlorine, barium, magnesium, potassium, and radioactive strontium. In Louisiana, 16 cows that drank fluid from a fracked well began bellowing, foaming and bleeding at the mouth, then dropped dead. Homeowners near fracked sites complain about a host of frightening consequences, from poisoned wells to sickened pets to debilitating illnesses.

via How gas drilling contaminates your food – Sustainable food – Salon.com.

“Omnivorous Energy” – A Strategy for Local Resilience

9 May

John Robb at Global Guerrillas has a provocative pair of posts. First, on energy omnivores vs. specialists:

  1. The generalist (aka The Omnivore).   Able to consume a wide variety of energy although at an efficiency penalty.
  2. The specialist.   Able to access and consume a very narrow type of energy in a highly efficient way.

We’re in an era of change, so the specialist is vulnerable, as the specialist’s favored resources may disappear. But the omnivore can take whatever’s available and so has an advantage. Thus “we need to adopt more of an omnivore strategy in regards to nearly everything we do.” So, broaden your skill set, diversify investments, really diversify: “An omnivorous investment strategy puts resources into communities and technologies that will be there even when most financial assets are imploding.”

A second post talks more directly about energy:

One of the methods I recommend to reduce that vulnerability is to use microgrids. Microgrids are essentially a local controlled electricity network that makes it possible for communities to create dynamic local markets for electricity production and consumption that can zoom innovation and investment.   When we first began to talk about microgrids, the technologies involved were merely plans on paper.  Now, a mere three years later, we see offerings from many major technology companies (with the potential of open source projects that can open up this tech for everyone).

Moving along:

A truly resilient strategy for the local production of energy (both heat and power) should be able to consume nearly any type of fuel.  In essence, our energy consumption strategy needs to be omnivorous — it can eat anything.  Currently, the vast majority of the energy we consume is produced through purchasing and running dedicated systems — i.e. furnaces that burn natural gas, oil, or wood.  Also, these systems must be able to produce a range of outputs, from heat to electrical power as needed.

“Our Friend the Atom” and He is Us

18 Mar

One idea that I’ve seen here and there in discussions of the nuclear emergency in Japan goes like this: “Why the coverage of the nukes? After all, thousands have already died from the earthquake and tsunami, 100s of thousands are homeless, and whole towns have been wiped away. All that damage far exceeds anything so far caused by those collapsed plants and any damage likely to be caused by them. Why not more coverage of the big story?”

The question, I believe, is a good one. And the answer, I suspect, goes like this: The earthquake and the tsunami were caused by Nature. We can take preventive measures, but we can’t predict or control them (though we’re working on prediction). Those atomic plants, however, they are Us. To say we can’t control them is to say that we can’t control ourselves. If we can’t control ourselves, are we any better than animals?

The issue of control is crucial. The difference between an atomic explosion and an atomic power plant is one of control: WE CONTROL what happens in the power plant. We can turn it on, turn it off, and make it go faster or slower. It does our bidding. Of course, it also creates dangerous radiation, which we must control. If we don’t, the radiation causes disease, cancer, mutations, strange unnatural beings, monsters (Gojira).

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Shazaam! Ontario, the Jolly Green Giant

17 Mar

Writing from Buffalo, Bill Nowak informs TPUSA that Ontario’s become the Jolly Green Giant of North American energy.

Check it out – Ontario has started taking over the North American market for renewable energy because they have followed Germany’s example and set fair, fixed prices for solar and wind through their “feed-in tariff”. The renewable revolution is now accessible to all in Ontario. Individuals, communities, co-ops, Indian tribes and businesses can all generate green energy profitably. They are setting themselves up for a secure future.

In the last year, over $9 billion in private sector investment has been committed to clean energy projects, creating an estimated 20,000 new jobs in Ontario.

In 2003, Ontario had 19 dirty, polluting coal units and just ten wind turbines. Today, the province has over 700 new wind turbines and by 2014 they plan to be finished with coal generators and the greenhouse gases they produce.

Check out the latest news from Ontario’s Ministry of Energy.