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17Sep/14Off

Viewpoints: Even without Tesla, electric car batteries can boost state

By Ethan N. Elkind

Special to The Bee

Ethan N. Elkind is associate director of the Climate Change and Business Program at the UC Berkeley and UCLA Schools of Law and author of the report “Reuse and Repower: How to Save Money and Clean the Grid with Second-Life Electric Vehicle Batteries.”

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014 - 12:00 am

California leaders are wringing their hands now that Tesla Motors has chosen Nevada as the site for its planned $5 billion “gigafactory.” Lost to California is a battery superfactory with 6,500 on-site jobs, plus thousands more in supportive industries.

But California still has an opportunity to boost an entirely different battery supply market, one that will also help the state clean our energy supply and reduce the cost of electric vehicles in the process. The answer lies not in manufacturing new batteries, but repurposing used ones.

Most people are unaware that the expensive, high-capacity lithium ion batteries in plug-in electric vehicles still retain significant capacity once they are no longer useful in the vehicle. After eight or 10 years in your Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S, your battery may not take you as far as you’d like on a single charge, prompting you to buy a new one.

But that old battery will likely have 70 to 80 percent capacity remaining. Stacks of these used, less expensive batteries could clean the electric grid by storing surplus wind and solar power for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. They could also provide power for homes and businesses during times of high demand, reducing the need for dirty “peaker” power plants. Plus, electric vehicles could be less expensive if automakers factor in the long-term resale value of the batteries in the sale price.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/17/6712372/viewpoints-even-without-tesla.html

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17Sep/14Off

SolarCity Aims Zep Solar Technology at Commercial Rooftops

“The future of flat-roof installations is in east-west orientation.”

Eric Wesoff

September 16, 2014

Last year, SolarCity, the leading residential distributed energy provider and financier in the U.S., acquired Zep Solar, a solar-module mounting startup, for $158 million in SolarCity stock.

Zep's system makes the solar panel itself part of the racking hardware via a specially grooved frame, eliminating rails and using the module frame as the structural and mounting element. That special frame does not come from Zep -- rather, it comes from a panel vendor that has licensed the Zep design and the aluminum die.

Lyndon Rive, SolarCity CEO, reports that the Zep system "doubled throughput" and brought down the time of install from two or three days to less than one day, adding that it "looked better and made for a better customer experience."

Now SolarCity wants to apply Zep's groove technology to improve installation and increase solar output for commercial rooftops.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/SolarCity-Aims-Zep-Solar-Technology-at-Commercial-Solar-Rooftops?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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17Sep/14Off

U.S. Moves to Reduce Global Warming Emissions

By CORAL DAVENPORTSEPT. 16, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a series of moves aimed at cutting emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

The White House has secured voluntary agreements from some of the nation’s largest companies to scale down or phase out their use of HFCs, which are factory-made gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Red Bull, Kroger, Honeywell and DuPont, the company that invented fluorinated refrigerants, have agreed to cut their use and replace them with climate-friendly alternatives.

Over all, the administration estimated that the agreements announced on Tuesday would reduce cumulative global consumption of HFCs by the equivalent of 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2025. That is about 1.5 percent of the world’s 2010 greenhouse gas emissions, or the same as taking 15 million cars off the road for 10 years.

The announcement came a week before President Obama is expected to join over 100 other world leaders at a United Nations climate change summit in New York, which will begin 15 months of negotiations as leaders work toward a global climate change agreement in Paris next year.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/us/hfc-emissions-cut-under-agreement.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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17Sep/14Off

Republicans try to turn Tom Steyer into a midterm bogeyman

Republicans are taking a page out of the Democratic playbook by seeking to make billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer into a midterm election bogeyman.

The latest effort comes in a new TV ad from the Republican super PAC American Crossroads attacking Rep. Bruce Braley (D) in the Iowa Senate race. The 30-second commercial hits Braley for voting against the Keystone XL pipeline after previously supporting it.

"Now, a California billionaire who stands to profit by blocking Keystone is spending big to help Braley's campaign," says the narrator as a picture of Steyer under the label "California billionaire Tom Steyer" appears on-screen.

The ad is reminiscent of a recent commercial Crossroads GPS, an affiliated nonprofit, ran in the Michigan Senate race. That commercial also sought to portray Steyer as a wealthy villain.

Democratic campaigns and groups have their own bogeymen: The Koch brothers. Democrats have routinely tried to link Republican candidates to the billionaire industrialist brothers who back conservative candidates and causes through groups like Americans for Prosperity.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/09/16/republicans-try-to-turn-tom-steyer-into-a-midterm-bogeyman/

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17Sep/14Off

Preventing climate change and adapting to it are not morally equivalent

By David Roberts

16 Sep 2014 6:06 AM

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/preventing-climate-change-and-adapting-to-it-are-not-morally-equivalent/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Sept%252016&utm_campaign=daily

Climate hawks are familiar with the framing of climate policy credited to White House science advisor John Holdren, to wit: We will respond to climate change with some mix of mitigation, adaptation, and suffering; all that remains to be determined is the mix.

It’s a powerful bit of language. It makes clear that not acting is itself a choice — a choice in favor of suffering.

But in another way, Holdren’s formulation obscures an important difference between mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate effects) and adaptation (changing infrastructure and institutions to cope with climate effects). It makes them sound fungible, as though a unit of either can be traded in for an equivalent unit of suffering. That’s misleading. They are very different, not only on a practical level but morally.

Carbon is global, adaptation is local

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17Sep/14Off

Mark Ruffalo touts Houston electricity plan

Posted on September 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm by Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Electricity, Environment

WASHINGTON — The oil industry may know actor Mark Ruffalo better for his role fighting hydraulic fracturing, rather than his big screen roles in “The Kids Are All Right” and “The Avengers.”

The actor-turned-activist’s fight against fracturing has earned him plenty of industry ire and even landed him a spot on a government terror advisory list.

But on Tuesday, Ruffalo bestowed a compliment on the oil industry — or, at least, on the city it calls home.

“This is a wonderful irony,” he said, in a conference call with reporters. “Houston, Texas is literally the capital of the fossil fuel industry in the world, and their municipality right now is drawing 50 percent of its power right now from clean energy.”

Ruffalo said Houston’s 2013 decision to green up its electric supplies is just one of many “great stories” as companies and local governments seek out renewable power.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/16/mark-ruffalo-touts-houston-electricity-plan/

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17Sep/14Off

Vanguard to spend $525 million for Colorado gas and NGL assets

Posted on September 16, 2014 at 10:06 am by Robert Grattan in General, Natural gas, Natural gas liquids

HOUSTON — Vanguard Natural Resources has moved further into Colorado’s Piceance Basin with a $525 million deal for producing acreage from Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp., Vanguard announced today.

The purchased properties include 12,000 net acres and 950 producing wells. Vanguard said the combined properties will pump 67 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day, of which 76 percent is natural gas, 5 percent is oil and 19 percent is natural gas liquids. The company also highlighted 119 recompletion projects and 94 potential drilling locations.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/16/vanguard-to-buy-colorado-natural-gas-and-ngl-resources/

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17Sep/14Off

PG&E ‘housecleaning’ stops short of the top

September 16, 2014 | Updated: September 16, 2014 6:35pm

A culture of collusion between Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives and top state regulators is on display in e-mails that show the utility judge-shopping in a key dispute and top regulators easily giving in. Though several people were fired, it’s a scandal that demands more consequences.

Three utility executives were dismissed, along with the top aide to state Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, who recused himself from further deliberations dealing with PG&E and the aftermath of the deadly San Bruno gas-line explosion.

If Gov. Brown needs any more convincing, the exchanges between the utility and regulators are convincing evidence that Peevey must be replaced as the state agency’s top leader. His term is due to run out this year, and Brown must use his power of appointment to redirect the commission, which has lost its independence and honesty.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/PG-E-housecleaning-stops-short-of-the-top-5760138.php?t=5558931633

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17Sep/14Off

Duke Energy goes big on solar in North Carolina, plans to drop $500M

By Katie Fehrenbacher

13 hours ago

North Carolina is getting a wave of new solar farms bought, built, and developed by utility Duke Energy.

Oh, how things can change in just a few years. Several years ago there was so little clean power in North Carolina that Apple ended up building massive solar power farms in the state to help power its data center. Google shied away from green power for its North Carolina data center, which was built back in 2006.

But over the last couple of years North Carolina has morphed into a leading solar growth state, showing 80 percent growth in its solar industry in 2013. And on Monday the local utility, Duke Energy, announced a plan to spend $500 million on building, buying and acquiring solar panel farms throughout the state. The projects will help Duke Energy meet the renewable portfolio standard that says utilities need to have 12.5 percent of their electricity coming from clean power by 2020.

Apple’s solar farm in North Carolina. Image courtesy of Apple.

Duke Energy plans to use its money to:

To read the entire article go to: https://gigaom.com/2014/09/15/duke-energy-goes-big-on-solar-in-north-carolina-plans-to-drop-500m/

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17Sep/14Off

New solar plant nears approval in California desert

Posted on Monday, September 15 at 1:52pm | By Carolyn Lochhead

Despite serious environmental concerns, the California Energy Commission has given a preliminary green light to a second big solar project in the California desert by BrightSource Energy of Oakland with investment partners Google of Mountain View and NRG Energy of Houston.

The proposed plant is the latest iteration of an increasingly controverial push by the Obama administration to subsidize giant solar plants in the Mojave Desert.

The plant would be within a few miles of Joshua Tree National Park.

The Palen solar plant would use the same technology as the company’s 5.4-square-mile Ivanpah facility in the Mojave that opened last spring with a $1.6 billion federal loan. The Ivanpah plant is the largest of its kind in the world, using concentrated light beams reflected from thousands of mirrors onto 40-story “power towers” that heat boilers to generate electricity. The Ivanpah plant has come under fire by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials for igniting birds, butterflies and other objects that pass through the super-heated area of “solar flux.”

To read the entire article go to: http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2014/09/15/new-solar-plant-nears-approval-in-california-desert/

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17Sep/14Off

New Hydroelectric Plant to Be Built for New York

By SAM ROBERTSSEPT. 15, 2014

The city is planning to build a $72 million hyrdoelectric power plant at its Cannonsville Reservoir. Credit New York City Department of Environmental Protection

It seems as natural as, well, water: Harness the energy potential of a 95-billion-gallon reservoir to run four turbines and generate electrical power cleanly and at a profit.

Having overcome potential hurdles ranging from drought-stricken rafters on the Delaware River to the endangered dwarf wedgemussel and northern wild monkshood, New York City is tapping the vast resources of its upstate reservoir system to commission a new hydroelectric plant.

The plant is projected to generate 14 megawatts of electric power, which the city would sell to the New York power grid. That is enough to provide electricity, on average, to 6,000 homes. By not using oil or coal to generate electricity, it is estimated that the plant would avoid the emission of 25,620 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, or the equivalent of removing 5,400 cars from the road.

This would be the largest hydroelectric development in New York State in more than two decades and the first time power would be generated directly from a Delaware River branch.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/16/nyregion/new-hydroelectric-plant-to-be-built-for-new-york.html?ref=energy-environment

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17Sep/14Off

Drought Becomes Powerful Political Tool for Brown, Lawmakers


John Myers | September 16, 2014

Original source: http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2014/09/16/drought-becomes-powerful-political-tool-for-jerry-brown-and-lawmakers

Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t miss a beat on Tuesday when asked what made a deal come together on a first-ever law regulating the use of groundwater in California.

“First of all, we’ve got a drought,” said Brown. “And that’s got everybody’s attention.”

And that attention has allowed Brown, partially in public and a lot behind the scenes, to wield some real power on one of the most contentious issues in the history of the Golden State. On Tuesday, the governor signed into law three bills that put in place a first series of steps to limit what, until now, has been almost limitless: the power of individuals and industries to tap underground water supplies.

The new laws signed by Brown in a state Capitol ceremony will require groundwater management plans to be crafted on the local level over an eight-year period, based on underground basins identified and prioritized by state officials. Locals would then have a few more years to begin getting a handle on groundwater use and would have new enforcement powers.

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17Sep/14Off

California dairy farmers are going nuts for almonds, but at what cost?

By Madeleine Thomas

15 Sep 2014 8:03 AM

Original source: http://grist.org/food/california-dairy-farmers-are-going-nuts-for-almonds-but-at-what-cost/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Sept%252015&utm_campaign=daily

This is Part 2 of a two-part series about California’s organic dairy industry. Read Part 1 here.

“The bees should be flying around today,” Ward Burroughs says in a slow, deep baritone, furrowing his brow over close-set eyes as he peeks over the steering wheel of his white pickup truck. We’re surrounded on both sides by a sea of pale pink — row upon row of densely planted almond trees, their plump, compact blossoms in full bloom.

The thermometer on the dashboard reads 59 degrees Fahrenheit, two degrees above the minimum temperature required for the bees to leave their hives and start pollinating, turning those blossoms into nuts that drive the state’s nearly $5-billion-a-year industry. Ward narrows his eyes, scanning a sky the color of an oyster shell for the little insects that could keep his family farm afloat.

As I wrote in my last post, Ward and Rosie Burroughs own and operate Burroughs Family Farms, a pair of organic dairies in California’s Northern San Joaquin Valley. But the Burroughs, along with many organic dairymen in the state’s Central Valley, are in the middle of a perfect storm of sorts: California’s drought and federal water restrictions are quickly drying up cattle pasture and driving organic feed costs skyward. National dairy co-ops like Organic Valley are starting to respond to the crisis by paying farmers more for their milk, but prices throughout the milk supply chain aren’t high enough to meet the rising costs of production.

To help weather the storm, the Burroughs have sold a third dairy and ramped up the production of other goods, including grass-raised meat, eggs, and olive oil. Many of their colleagues have decided to leave dairying entirely, though, closing the doors on family farms that have operated for generations.

And then there are the almonds. What used to be miles of open pasture surrounding the Burroughs’ farm is now unending swaths of almond orchards — a sight that didn’t exist just a decade ago. Those almonds have been a savior for some organic dairymen, who have chosen to rip out their grass rather than go out of business altogether. But with California now supplying roughly 80 percent of the world’s almonds, the race to establish orchards has become a frenzied one.

“The almonds and pistachio crops are really king now in the Central Valley,” Ward says. “Dairies used to be.”

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17Sep/14Off

Researchers trace water contamination to faulty gas wells

Posted on September 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm by Michael Brick in Environment, Hydraulic fracturing, Natural gas, Shale

From the courtroom to the laboratory to the picket line, the fight over drinking water pollution has examined a wide range of complex techniques connected to new methods of hydraulic fracturing.

But the real cause, researchers reported on Monday, may be as simple as a shoddy cement job.

The contamination “stems from well-integrity problems such as poor casing and cementing,” Thomas H. Darrah, an earth science expert at Ohio State who led the study, said in a prepared statement.

The peer-reviewed journal report, led by Duke University with financing from the National Science Foundation, built on previous work establishing elevated levels of methane in groundwater near areas of oil and gas production.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/15/researchers-trace-water-contamination-to-faulty-gas-wells/

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17Sep/14Off

Well Leaks, Not Fracking, Are Linked to Fouled Water

By HENRY FOUNTAINSEPT. 15, 2014

A study of tainted drinking water in areas where natural gas is produced from shale shows that the contamination is most likely caused by leaky wells rather than the process of hydraulic fracturing used to release the gas from the rock.

The study looked at seven cases in Pennsylvania and one in Texas where water wells had been contaminated by methane and other hydrocarbon gases. Both states have extensive deposits of gas-bearing shale that have been exploited in recent years as part of a surge in domestic energy production. Some environmental groups have suggested that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could cause the gas to migrate into drinking water aquifers.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/16/science/study-points-to-well-leaks-not-fracking-for-water-contamination.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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