Tag Archives: renewable energy

U.S. states turn against renewable energy as gas plunges

By Christopher Martin, April 23, 2013. Source: Bloomberg

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More than half the U.S. states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply.

Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut.

The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy Corp (DUK). and PG&E Corp (PCG). as well as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)., the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp (BTU)., the largest U.S. coal mining company. Those companies contributed to at least one of the lobby groups pushing the change, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison, Wisconsin-based non-profit group. It would hurt wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) and First Solar Inc (FSLR)., which develops solar farms.

“We’re opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them,” said Todd Wynn, task force director for energy of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or Alec, a lobby group pushing for the change. “Natural gas is a clean fuel, and regulators and policy makers are seeing how it’s much more affordable than renewable energy.”
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BP selling its entire U.S. wind power business; Will focus on oil and gas for future growth

Note: Not that we though BP investing in mega-wind farms was any kind of solution either, but…reinvesting in oil and gas to position itself for “sustainable growth”?  Now that is what we call a perfect paradox.

-The GJEP Team

By Matt Cover, April 3, 2013.  Source: CNS News

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

BP will sell its entire American wind power business in an effort to “position the company for sustainable growth” and return to its core business of oil and gas production.

BP is the No. 6 largest oil and gas companies in the world, according to Forbes, producing 4.1 million barrels of oil per day.

“BP has decided to market for sale our U.S. wind energy business as part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company and re-position the company for sustainable growth into the future,” BP said in an emailed statement to CNSNews.com.

BP operates 16 wind farms in nine states that together produce about 2,600 megawatts of power. It is also selling undeveloped projects that could produce an additional 2,000 megawatts.
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Wind and solar groups flee ALEC

By Tina Gerhardt, February 1, 2013.  Source: The Progressive

alecThe American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is suffering backlash from its battle on a new front: renewable energy standards.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) have let their ALEC memberships expire, according to Greenwire (subscription required).

Why? Last October, ALEC adopted the “Electricity Freedom Act”model bill. This model bill, which ALEC is now seeking to roll out in various states, would end requirements for states to derive a specific percentage of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.

Given the gridlock on national legislation, renewable energy standards, which are typically passed at the state or local level, set targets for shifting from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy.

The Solar Energy Industry Association let its one-year membership expire last fall. The American Wind Energy Association let its membership drop in January.
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Video: Damocracy

January 10, 2013.  Source: International Rivers

DAMOCRACY is an international movement striving to debunk the myth of dams as clean energy. While large dam projects worldwide are promoted as sources of renewable energy, in reality they cause irreversible damage to nature, people and cultures around the world.

Doga Dernegi (BirdLife in Turkey), Amazon Watch, International Rivers, RiverWatch, Gota D’água (Drop of Water) Movement, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) and Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (MXVPS) have formed the “Damocracy” movement on destructive dams, which is open for other groups working for the same purpose of debunking the myth of dams as clean energy.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Videos, Water

Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels

By Ralph Vartabedian, December 9, 2012.  Source: LA Times

Photo: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times

Photo: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times

The Delta Energy Center, a power plant about an hour outside San Francisco, was roaring at nearly full bore one day last month, its four gas and steam turbines churning out 880 megawatts of electricity to the California grid.

On the horizon, across an industrial shipping channel on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, scores of wind turbines stood dead still. The air was too calm to turn their blades — or many others across the state that day. Wind provided just 33 megawatts of power statewide in the midafternoon, less than 1% of the potential from wind farms capable of producing 4,000 megawatts of electricity.

As is true on many days in California when multibillion-dollar investments in wind and solar energy plants are thwarted by the weather, the void was filled by gas-fired plants like the Delta Energy Center.

One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power — and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet — is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California’s electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants.

“The public hears solar is free, wind is free,” said Mitchell Weinberg, director of strategic development for Calpine Corp., which owns Delta Energy Center. “But it is a lot more complicated than that.”
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Half of Europe’s renewable energy ‘comes from wood’

November 30 2012. Source: EurActiv

Practically half of the EU’s renewable energy currently comes from wood and wood waste, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat, but a lack of sustainability criteria for measuring its environmental impact is stoking fears of a hidden carbon debt mountain.

The new Eurostat numbers were issued in conjunction with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL), which sets ambitious renewables, energy efficiency and universal energy access targets.

According to the Eurostat statistics, on average, 49% of renewable energy in the EU 27 states came from wood and wood waste in 2010, and most EU states met the majority of their renewable energy obligations this way.

Forest products were most popular in the Baltics, accounting for 96% of Estonia’s renewable energy and 88% of Lithuania’s. At the other end of the table, Norway and Cyprus only used wood materials for 11% and 13% of their renewable energy needs respectively.  Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Military Greens (or, how to kill people renewably…)

Note: Nope, sorry, it’s just not enough to go after fossil fuels alone.  Just look at this prime example.  The military is switching over to “renewable” biofuels.  It is a systemic problem, not a fossil fuels problem.  We really do have to change the system–transform it into something both socially just and ecologically balanced.  It is all connected, after all… Green military?  Aaacckk.

–The GJEP Team

by Jeremy Runnalls, 2 August, 2012, Source: Corporate Knights

Climate wars. Fuel volatility. Safety in the battlefield. The Pentagon has many reasons to embrace renewable energy, and it’s taking action.

During a speech in Maryland last year, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus looked back on the energy transitions that American naval forces have undergone over the past 150 years. Modernization required leaving the sail behind and building metal ships powered first by coal, then oil. The objections were fierce, with officers convinced the steel ships wouldn’t float and Navy leaders reluctant to jettison wind-propelled ships for an unproven technology. Mabus sees similar objections forming today, as the Navy moves away from fossil-fuel dependency. “The naysayers who say it’s too expensive, that the technology is just not there – they are going to be proven wrong again,” he said.

According to Sohbet Karbuz, a military energy analyst and former International Energy Agency official, there are multiple factors pushing the Department of Defense (DoD) to go green, including “increasing fuel costs, logistics pains and the delicate fuel distribution network.” The DoD is the largest consumer of liquid fuels on the planet, burning about 375,000 barrels a day to fuel over 500,000 vehicles, ships and aircraft. “Energy security concerns also exist, due to the heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels,” added Karbuz. “Then there’s the fragile domestic energy grid which powers the hundreds of domestic military facilities in the United States.”

Oil intensity per war fighter has risen 2.6 per cent a year for the past 40 years. Cheap oil and infrequent supply disruptions lulled the military into complacency for decades. It is the experience in Afghanistan and Iraq that sparked an overhaul of the DoD’s approach to energy issues. More than 3,000 American soldiers and contractors have been killed in attacks involving fuel convoys over the past 10 years. P.W. Singer, a senior fellow and expert in 21st century warfare at the Brookings Institution, laments the army losses. “A mere 1 per cent improvement in defense energy efficiency would have meant 6,444 fewer convoy missions, one of the most dangerous roles in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.”

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Seattle Steam Plant Assailed as Producer of ‘Dirty Heat’ Despite Green Credentials

Note: “Recycled wood”?  Last time I checked, burning was not “recycling.”  Many times biomass plants start off with burning so-called “waste wood” left over from lumber mills, etc, but they quickly use up these materials and move right along to burning trees straight out of the forest.  Bad for health, bad for forests and bad for the climate.  Large biomass plants are no solution to anything.

–The GJEP Team

By Nina Shapiro Tue., Jul. 10 2012

Cross-Posted from Seattle Weekly

Seattle Steam.jpgA downtown energy plant has become a target for activists who claim the facility is producing “dirty heat” that is poisoning the environment and literally threatening our lives. “It’s connected with cancer, strokes, heart attacks,” said Duff Badgley, one of several dozen activists who staged a protest yesterday. Yet the facility in question–Seattle Steam’s new biomass plant–is producing a type of energy often hailed by environmentalists.Biomass heat is obtained by burning recycled wood rather than fossil fuels like coal and gas. Burning wood emits carbon just like fossil fuels, University of Washington bio-resource scientist Rick Gustafson tells Seattle Weekly. But since wood comes from trees that absorb carbon from the environment, biomass energy is considered “carbon neutral,” Gustafson says.

After Seattle Steam opened its biomass plant near Pike Place Market in 2010, converting part of its operation over from natural gas, the company received glowing coverage fromSustainable Industries Magazine, NPR and other media outlets. Seattle Steam chief executive Stan Gent tells SW that its biomass plant, which supplies heat to some 200 buildings downtown, has reduced the company’s carbon emissions by 60 percent.

Activists, however, claim that biomass plants emit more carbon, not less. They also say such facilities pollute the air with small matter known as “particulates.” Badgley, part of a group called No Biomass Burn, which has also protested planned facilities in Port Townsend and Shelton, says it’s these particulates that can cause grave health hazards like heart attacks and strokes. He cites a 2008 report from the American Lung Association that warns that even short-term exposure to particle pollution “can kill.”

But that report was not talking about biomass plant pollution specifically, but all types of particle emission, including the pollution caused by automobiles and even home fireplaces. Clark Williams-Derry, director of programs for the environmental non-profit Sightline Institute, says he believes cars and trucks–not biomass plants– “are the big deals when it comes to particulates.” He points to a chart created by Seattle Steam that shows just that.

Gent adds that his company’s facility, being new, has a state-of-the-art “scrubber” that cleans up the emissions so that the plant generates even less particulates than allowed by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Still, Sightline’s Williams-Derry says there’s a question in his mind about the agency’s capabilities. “Are they finding the really, really fine particulates,” he wonders. If there’s a problem however, holds the UW’s Gustafson, the solution lies in correct regulation, not throwing out biomass energy altogether.

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