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25Jul/14Off

Is the prosumer knocking on your door?

Kathleen Wolf Davis | Jul 24, 2014

I hate the term prosumer for one reason: I don't want to be one. I don't want to be forced into managing both the things I have to and all the tangential life things, too.  Rather than being a prosumer, I want to be an endsumer (just left out of everything but the end result, thanks).

To read the entire article go to: http://www.energybiz.com/article/14/07/prosumer-knocking-your-door?utm_source=2014_07_25&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=EB_DAILY&utm_content=243426

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25Jul/14Off

Energy Commission Takes Over Solar

July 24, 2014

Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=7686

The California Energy Commission this week eliminated the role of the state’s utilities in the administration of a solar energy installation incentive program.

“The thinking was that it was the first step to really get the utilities into the business of installing solar subdivision by subdivision,” commission chair Bob Weisenmiller said. “That didn’t play out,” he added.

“This will provide an administrative cost savings for the program and a single point of contact for stakeholders, which will make the program more cost-effective and more efficient,” Energy Commission specialist Le-Quyen Nguyen explained.

On a 4-0 vote July 22, the commission turned the administration over to its staff. Its agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison for the daily application processing and call center activities of the New Solar Homes Partnership were terminated.

The transfer of activities is expected to occur by Aug. 27, Nguyen said.

The program was established in January 2007 with a goal to install 360 MW of solar generating capacity on new homes and residential buildings by 2016.

The New Solar Homes Partnership provides financial incentives for installing solar energy systems on new residential buildings. Such systems must be placed on new, energy efficient, residential buildings that receive electricity from specified utility companies.

It’s part of the California Solar Initiative program that’s jointly overseen by the Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Energy Commission’s responsibilities include maintaining and updating the solar partnership guidebook, photovoltaic calculator maintenance, consumer outreach, technical support, and maintenance of the web-based system, equipment certification, field verification protocol and retailer registration.

The Energy Commission also approved a two-year, $5 million interagency agreement with the California Air Resources Board to provide funding for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project for qualified electric vehicles.

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25Jul/14Off

Amory Lovins’ high-tech home skimps on energy but not on comfort

By Ben Adler

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/amory-lovins-high-tech-home-skimps-on-energy-but-not-on-comfort/

For most of its history, environmentalism has been associated with a back-to-the-land lifestyle: being one with nature, living in the woods, wearing sandals, maybe driving a Volkswagen. Over the last decade, a counter-narrative has taken over. Cities are in. As climate change has become the dominant environmental issue, a low-carbon lifestyle has become the priority. Denser living is heralded for its energy efficiency, as are walking, biking and taking transit instead of driving.

All other things being equal, walkable urbanism beats sprawl. But one house in Old Snowmass, Colo., demonstrates that, with the right design, rural living can be about as low-carbon as possible. And it turns out those hippies were on to something: the secrets to low-impact rural housing lie in embracing nature instead of combatting it. Plus it helps to have some bleeding-edge technology.

Amory Lovins, the owner of the house, is exactly the guy you’d expect to live here. A bespectacled physicist and world-renowned energy-efficiency expert, he cofounded the Rocky Mountain Institute in 1982 with his then-wife L. Hunter Lovins. They chose this location, nestled up in the mountains 14 miles from Aspen, for RMI’s first headquarters, which they built as a model of energy efficiency. The original structure was completed in 1984. Today, RMI has expanded into other buildings, but Lovins still lives in the original house, which got a high-tech makeover in 2009.

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25Jul/14Off

Why Residential PACE Is Growing in Spite of Opposition From Federal Housing Lenders

Even with California’s new loan-loss reserve fund, FHFA still doesn’t like PACE financing. Does that matter?

Stephen Lacey

July 24, 2014

Last fall, California's governor and treasury secretary came up with a plan to solve a longstanding conflict with federal housing authorities over residential property-assessed clean energy (PACE) programs.

The plan didn't work. But does it even matter?

After years of a near standstill, residential PACE programs are back on the upswing in California and other states. And while federal support will be critical for the success of the program nationwide, experts say the promising clean energy financing model will still continue to grow.

By leveraging local bonding authority, PACE supports loans for energy efficiency, water conservation and solar projects. Those loans get paid back through incremental increases to property taxes over twenty years. California pioneered the concept, and state officials have been highly supportive its expansion.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Why-Residential-PACE-Is-Growing?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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25Jul/14Off

GE Threatens to Enter Fuel Cell Market, Compete With Bloom

A claimed breakthrough in solid oxide fuel cell technology

Eric Wesoff

July 24, 2014

Earlier this week, General Electric announced that it is initiating an entrepreneurial effort to commercialize its solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology for megawatt-scale stationary power applications. Billion-dollar fuel cell startup Bloom Energy also works with SOFC technology at this scale.

GE has claimed a recent fuel cell "breakthrough" with an efficiency of 65 percent (when used with a Jenbacher engine) and an overall efficiency of up to 95 percent when waste heat is captured.

Johanna Wellington, advanced technology leader at GE Global Research and the head of GE’s fuel cell business, stated in a release, “The cost challenges associated with the technology have stumped a lot of people for a long time,” adding, “we made it work, and we made it work economically."

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ge-threatens-to-enter-fuel-cell-market-compete-with-bloom?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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25Jul/14Off

Drilling in Pennsylvania has damaged the water supply 209 times in last seven years

By Heather Smith

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/drilling-in-pennsylvania-has-damaged-the-water-supply-209-times-in-the-last-7-years/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520July%252025&utm_campaign=daily

Whether or not you think that’s alright depends on your perspective. According to Patrick Creighton, those numbers are pretty good – so many oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania in the past seven years that 209 problem wells is a mere 1 percent of the total. But Creighton happens to be the spokesperson for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group composed of natural gas drillers. So there’s that.

According to Steve Hvozdovich, 209 is a lot. “You are talking about somebody’s drinking water supply.” But then Hvozdovich works for the environmental group Clean Water Action. He would like clean drinking water.

However you feel about the 209 “instances,” that number wasn’t an easy one get. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is legally required to get to the bottom of drilling-related water complaints, report its findings to the owner of the affected property, and issue orders to clean up or fix the damage — all within 45 days of the first complaint.

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25Jul/14Off

Here’s How American Scientists Plan to Prevent the Next Nuclear Disaster


By Jason Plautz

July 24, 2014

Despite advances in protecting U.S. nuclear plants, more work must be done to make sure they can withstand such natural catastrophes as the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

That's the recommendation from a federal report released Thursday that investigated the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which forced the evacuation of 300,000 people from the region and drew renewed attention to the dangers of nuclear power.

The National Academy of Sciences, which was commissioned to investigate the incident, found that U.S. plants are designed to withstand crises such as equipment failures, loss of power, or an inability to cool the reactor core. But it's the "beyond-design-basis events," like natural disasters, that pose the greater risk and have been behind meltdowns at Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/here-s-american-scientists-plan-to-prevent-the-next-nuclear-disaster-20140724

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25Jul/14Off

Lessons From New York: How Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath Is Creating a Smarter Power System

Dan Kammen and Craig Lewis explain the significance of New York’s reaction to Superstorm Sandy.

Daniel M. Kammen and Craig Lewis

July 24, 2014

It’s ironic that a storm -- one that caused widespread blackouts that left millions of Americans in the dark -- is finally helping us see the light.

Hurricane Sandy brought devastation and loss to the Eastern Seaboard. The storm exposed the severe vulnerability of our electricity infrastructure and made global headlines as a harbinger of nature’s impacts in a climate-changed world. But beyond the shock, New Yorkers found a silver lining in the destruction.

The storm made it crystal clear that the existing electricity system is not suited to address the challenges of the 21st century. In response, New York state recently released a powerful report illuminating how it plans to create a more affordable, efficient and reliable grid.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/winds-of-change-hurricane-sandy-is-ushering-in-a-smarter-power-system?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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New Jersey Launches $200M Energy Resilience Bank for Microgrids and Distributed Generation

Islanding critical facilities will be a priority.

Katherine Tweed

July 24, 2014

Following in the footsteps of its tri-state neighbors, New Jersey is establishing an infrastructure bank that is focused on energy resiliency.

The names of these institutions vary across Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, but the idea is similar: leveraging public and private capital and the authority of the state to fund energy projects that provide cleaner, more reliable sources of electricity.

The $200 million for New Jersey’s Energy Resilience Bank will come from the state’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery allocation. Unlike the models employed in Connecticut and New York, it remains unclear at what point private capital will be brought into New Jersey’s ERB, or at what scale.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/New-Jersey-Launches-200M-Energy-Resilience-Bank-For-Microgrids-and-Distrib?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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25Jul/14Off

Why a Minimum Bill May Be a Solution to Net Metering Battles

GTM Research looks at the economic impact of a minimum bill versus fixed charges for solar customers.

Josh Cornfeld and Shayle Kann

July 24, 2014

In June, the solar energy industry was excited to learn that solar advocates and electric utilities had reached an agreement on solar policy in Massachusetts.

One of the changes House Bill 4185 would make to solar policy is subjecting all electric utility customers to a minimum bill. In a new report, The Minimum Bill as a Net Metering Solution, GTM Research explores the potential impact of the proposed Massachusetts minimum bill. This report excerpt explains how the minimum bill mechanism would work and presents one of our key findings: a minimum bill is preferable to a fixed charge for solar customers.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/why-the-massachusetts-net-metering-compromise-could-be-a-model-for-other-st?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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25Jul/14Off

Westminster inks deal to draw energy from community solar gardens


By Austin Briggs

YourHub Reporter

Posted:   07/21/2014 10:42:25 AM MDT

Westminster is joining other communities in providing a way for residents to buy into solar energy without installing solar panels.

Denver-based SunShare is currently building solar fields in Jefferson and Adams county that will deliver a combined total of 4 megawatts of energy per year when they go online at the beginning of 2015.

Westminster has contracted to buy a total of 256,000 kilowatts of energy, enough to power approximately around 60 homes for 20 years.

SunShare's community solar garden enables a wide range of customers — renters, homeowners, municipal and industrial users — to buy energy drawn from a solar array site.

Officials said it lets users enjoy the benefits of solar without the upfront cost of solar installation, or it appeals to those who don't want the panels on their property.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/arvada/ci_26188203/westminster-inks-deal-draw-energy-from-community-solar

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25Jul/14Off

Study: Colorado River Basin drying up faster than previously thought


By Reid Wilson July 24 at 4:00 PM

The Colorado River supplies water to seven states and about 40 million people. (Graphic: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/07/24/study-colorado-river-basin-drying-up-faster-than-previously-thought/

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25Jul/14Off

A Carbon Tax’s Ignoble End

Why Tony Abbott Axed Australia’s Carbon Tax

JULY 24, 2014

SYDNEY, Australia — It will be remembered as one of the most ignoble moments in our history: On July 17, Australia became the first country to repeal a carbon tax.

The deputy leader of the Greens Party, Adam Bandt, said it was “the Australian Parliament’s asbestos moment, our tobacco moment — when we knew what we were doing was harmful, but went ahead and did it anyway.”

The tax, or carbon-pricing mechanism, had defined three elections, destabilized three prime ministers and dominated public debate in this country for eight toxic years. Finally, the leader of the center-right Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, won the last election in part by promising to “ax the tax.”

Mr. Abbott is famous for his fitness and muscular approach. As a student at Oxford, he won a “blue” at boxing for the university and was known for his all-out, flailing attacks. When the carbon-pricing scheme became law in 2011, he vowed to lead a “people’s revolt” and “fight this tax every second of every minute of every day.”

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/opinion/julia-baird-why-tony-abbott-axed-australias-carbon-tax.html?_r=0

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25Jul/14Off

Xi Jinping: Behind the purge of China’s oil firms

Xi Jinping has launched a campaign against his political rivals that is roiling the entire Communist Party. A Reuters examination of the oil-industry component of the Chinese president's crackdown shows the extent of the Xi Jinping purge, a drama that will have repercussions well beyond China.

By David Lague, Charlie Zhu, and Benjamin Kang Lim, Reuters July 24, 2014

Beijing, Hong Kong — Oil executive Jiang Jiemin rose to power in Communist China in time-honored fashion: by hitching his star to a mighty mentor.

In Jiang's case, that patron was another oil man, Zhou Yongkang, who went on to become the chief ofChina's internal security apparatus and one of the country's most powerful men.

Like Zhou before him, Jiang rose to the top of country's biggest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corporation. In return, say people familiar with his career, Jiang helped Zhou build power by using the oil giant to dispense patronage. In March last year Jiang ascended even higher, when he was named to run the agency that oversees all of China's biggest state-owned companies.

Their relationship was on display ahead of the party's 18th congress in November 2012, when both attended a banquet for CNPC veterans of a 1980s drive to find oil in remote western China. In toasts and remarks, Jiang continually referred to Zhou as "the leader" and urged the oil men to "accept the leadership of the Party's central committee" and of Zhou himself, says an executive who was at the banquet. The flattery, the executive says, "was so obvious."

Today, the retainer's loyalty to Zhou has backfired. In September, Jiang was sacked and arrested, a victim of a seismic power struggle as Chinese President Xi Jinping sets out to crush Zhou, the most senior leader targeted in a corruption probe since the Communist Party took power in 1949.

In a bid to isolate his rival, Xi is steadily taking down Zhou's extensive web of colleagues, political allies, relatives, staff and business associates of his family, according to people familiar with the investigation. Corruption investigators are swarming the CNPC group, where Zhou, 71, a geophysical engineer, built a vast network of friends and allies over the decades.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0724/Xi-Jinping-Behind-the-purge-of-China-s-oil-firms

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25Jul/14Off

China’s Plan to Limit Coal Use Could Spur Consumption for Years

By CHRIS BUCKLEYJULY 24, 2014

HONG KONG — Under pressure to reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions, the Chinese government is considering a mandatory cap on coal use, the main source of carbon pollution from fossil fuels. But it would be an adjustable ceiling that would allow coal consumption to grow for years, and policy makers are at odds on how long the nation’s emissions will rise.

Senior officials are debating these issues as they formulate a new five-year development plan, to be finalized by the end of next year. China emits more carbon dioxide than any other country, so what President Xi Jinping and his colleagues decide will have far-reaching consequences for efforts to contain climate change.

China’s leaders have not detailed their views on coal or carbon emission limits. But there is robust support among senior policy advisers for a firm national cap on coal starting in 2016, Wang Yi, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who studies environmental policy, said in a telephone interview.

“I think there’s a broad consensus on this, and it’s a question of how to implement it,” said Professor Wang, who is a senior member of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. “If we can have a cap on coal, that would almost be equivalent to a cap on carbon, because coal is such a dominant source of pollution and emissions.”

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/world/asia/chinese-plan-to-reduce-coal-use-could-allow-increases-for-years.html?ref=energy-environment

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