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Category Archives: ‘Other Renewables’
Kroger Co.'s anaerobic digester in Compton takes unsold food from Ralph's and Food 4 Less and converts it into 13 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.
By Tiffany Hsu
May 15, 2013, 6:40 p.m.
What happens to the 40% of food produced but never eaten in the U.S. each year, the mounds of perfect fruit passed over by grocery store shoppers, the tons of meat and milk left to expire?
At Ralphs, one of the oldest and largest supermarket chains on the West Coast, it helps keep the power on.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ralphs-energy-20130516,0,7330815.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedlyShare This Post
The sequester should not excuse the US military from making the important investments into the future, Holland writes. It is strategically important for the military to develop new sources of energy like biofuels.
By Andrew Holland, Guest blogger / May 9, 2013
The military has been a leader in the development of biofuels – for good reason. As I’ve written before, the military’s single-source dependence on petroleum for fuel is a strategic vulnerability. Oil has a monopoly on energy supply for 80% of our military’s energy needs, including virtually all of the non-nuclear transportation. To simply accept that oil is going to remain as the sole source of liquid fuel that the US military relies on for its transportation, operations, and training is to say that we should accept the long-term strategic risks of price volatility and dependence upon uncertain foreign countries.
We should remember that, even if the military uses oil solely from the United States and its allies, the price that the Defense Logistics Agency pays for oil is largely set by global market conditions – and saying that those are highly vulnerable to conflict and unrest in the Middle East is an understatement. (Related: The Operational and Strategic Rationale Behind the U.S. Military’s Energy Efforts)
Last year, in an attempt to address this threat, the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy were authorized under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to support the development of an alternative source of fuel. The funding agreed in a joint memorandum, and appropriated by Congress, each agency will invest $170 million over three years in helping to build a domestic biofuel industry (read more about the DoD’s biofuels policy here). This funding will be matched by investment from the private sector. Over the past several months, the agencies have been deliberating over which companies will partner with the government.Share This Post
By Howard Schneider, Published: May 8
The World Bank is making a major push to develop large-scale hydropower projects around the globe, something it had all but abandoned a decade ago but now sees as crucial to resolving the tension between economic development and the drive to tame carbon use.
Major hydropower projects in Congo, Zambia, Nepal and elsewhere — all of a scale dubbed “transformational” to the regions involved — are a focus of the bank’s fundraising drive among wealthy nations. Bank lending for hydropower has scaled up steadily in recent years, and officials expect the trend to continue amid a worldwide boom in water-fueled electricity.
Such projects were shunned in the 1990s, in part because they can be disruptive to communities and ecosystems. But the World Bank is opening the taps for dams, transmission lines and related infrastructure as its president, Jim Yong Kim, tries to resolve a quandary at the bank’s core: how to eliminate poverty while adding as little as possible to carbon emissions.
“Large hydro is a very big part of the solution for Africa and South Asia and Southeast Asia. . . . I fundamentally believe we have to be involved,” said Rachel Kyte, the bank’s vice president for sustainable development and an influential voice among Kim’s top staff members. The earlier move out of hydro “was the wrong message. . . . That was then. This is now. We are back.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/world-bank-turns-to-hydropower-to-square-development-with-climate-change/2013/05/08/b9d60332-b1bd-11e2-9a98-4be1688d7d84_story.html?wpmk=MK0000200Share This Post
The rights and wrongs of Belo Monte
Having spent heavily to make the world’s third-biggest hydroelectric project greener, Brazil risks getting a poor return on its $14 billion investment
May 4th 2013 | ALTAMIRA
THE biggest building site in Brazil is neither in the concrete jungle of São Paulo nor in beachside Rio de Janeiro, which is being revamped to host the 2016 Olympics. It lies 3,000km (1,900 miles) north in the state of Pará, deep in the Amazon basin. Some 20,000 labourers are working around the clock at Belo Monte on the Xingu river, the biggest hydropower plant under construction anywhere. When complete, its installed capacity, or theoretical maximum output, of 11,233MW will make it the world’s third-largest, behind China’s Three Gorges and Itaipu, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.
Everything about Belo Monte is outsized, from the budget (28.9 billion reais, or $14.4 billion), to the earthworks—a Panama Canal-worth of soil and rock is being excavated—to the controversy surrounding it. In 2008 a public hearing in Altamira, the nearest town, saw a government engineer cut with a machete. In 2010 court orders threatened to stop the auction for the project. The private-sector bidders pulled out a week before. When officials from Norte Energia, the winning consortium of state-controlled firms and pension funds, left the auction room, they were greeted by protesters—and three tonnes of pig muck.
Since then construction has twice been halted briefly by legal challenges. Greens and Amerindians often stage protests. Xingu Vivo (“Living Xingu”), an anti-Belo Monte campaign group, displays notes from supporters all over the world in its Altamira office. James Cameron, a Hollywood film-maker, has chimed in to compare Brazil’s dam-builders to the villains in “Avatar”, one of his blockbusters.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21577073-having-spent-heavily-make-worlds-third-biggest-hydroelectric-project-greener-brazilShare This Post
Shrouded in secrecy
Small dam, big argument
May 4th 2013 | GEORGETOWN
GUYANESE have long dreamed of harnessing their powerful rivers for hydroelectricity. Instead, they rely on imported oil for intermittent and expensive power. Now the government wants to move forward with an $840m project at Amaila Falls, deep in the forested interior. At full capacity of 165MW, it could supply more power than Guyana’s present needs.
The lead developer is Sithe Global, part of the Blackstone Group. Sithe wants a guaranteed 19% return on its equity stake, and plans to start construction this year. China Railway First Group signed an engineering contract in September. The China Development Bank will lend most of the money. The Inter-American Development Bank has been asked to chip in $175m; the World Bank was initially involved, but has pulled out.
Amaila’s supporters point out that it will flood less than 55 square km (21 square miles). No villages will be displaced and little wildlife will be disturbed. Guyana would no longer rely on fossil fuels for electricity. After two decades, ownership would pass to the government, construction costs paid off.
Opponents worry that clean electricity will not come cheap. Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the state-owned electricity company, will pay about $100m a year to the Amaila consortium. Electricity bills are unlikely to fall (three people were killed last year in protests over electricity charges). And Amaila’s power may not be reliable. The El Niño weather pattern can bring a year-long drought. In normal years, the plant will run below capacity between October and April. GPL will have to pay for backup thermal power. The IMF has urged “careful consideration of the [financial] risks”.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21577090-small-dam-big-argument-shrouded-secrecyShare This Post
Published: May 4, 2013
BINGZHONGLUO, China — From its crystalline beginnings as a rivulet seeping from a glacier on the Tibetan Himalayas to its broad, muddy amble through the jungles of Myanmar, the Nu River is one of Asia’s wildest waterways, its 1,700-mile course unimpeded as it rolls toward the Andaman Sea.
But the Nu’s days as one of the region’s last free-flowing rivers are dwindling. The Chinese government stunned environmentalists this year by reviving plans to build a series of hydropower dams on the upper reaches of the Nu, the heart of a Unesco World Heritage site in China’s southwest Yunnan Province that ranks among the world’s most ecologically diverse and fragile places.
Critics say the project will force the relocation of tens of thousands of ethnic minorities in the highlands of Yunnan and destroy the spawning grounds for a score of endangered fish species. Geologists warn that constructing the dams in a seismically active region could threaten those living downstream. Next month, Unesco is scheduled to discuss whether to include the area on its list of endangered places.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/world/asia/plans-to-harness-chinas-nu-river-threaten-a-region.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0Share This Post
Published: April 29, 2013
OSLO — This is a city that imports garbage. Some comes from England, some from Ireland. Some is from neighboring Sweden. It even has designs on the American market.
A trash incinerator. Roughly half of Oslo and most of its schools are heated by burning garbage.
“I’d like to take some from the United States,” said Pal Mikkelsen, in his office at a huge plant on the edge of town that turns garbage into heat and electricity. “Sea transport is cheap.”
Oslo, a recycling-friendly place where roughly half the city and most of its schools are heated by burning garbage — household trash, industrial waste, even toxic and dangerous waste from hospitals and drug arrests — has a problem: it has literally run out of garbage to burn.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/europe/oslo-copes-with-shortage-of-garbage-it-turns-into-energy.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, Apr. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
One committee of one legislative house recently did something rarely seen in the California Capitol. It made a rational decision about electricity.
The Legislature has been fiddling with how Californians' power is generated, distributed and priced for the past 40 years, ever since it created the state Energy Commission with an unspoken agenda of blocking expansion of nuclear power.
Its most intrusive – and wrong-headed – incursion into utility management occurred 17 years ago when it voted unanimously for a misnamed, misbegotten "deregulation" scheme that its drafters said would lower power costs, then among the highest in the nation.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/15/5341605/dan-walters-senate-committee-makes.htmlShare This Post
By STEVEN YACCINO Published: March 27, 2013
FAIR OAKS, Ind. — Here at one of the largest dairy farms in the country, electricity generated using an endless supply of manure runs the equipment to milk around 30,000 cows three times a day.
For years, the farm has used livestock waste to create enough natural gas to power 10 barns, a cheese factory, a cafe, a gift shop and a maze of child-friendly exhibits about the world of dairy, including a 4D movie theater.
All that, and Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis. It burned off the excess methane, wasted energy sacrificed to the sky.
But not anymore.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/us/dairy-finds-way-to-let-cows-power-trucks.html?src=recgShare This Post
Published: March 16, 2013
“It’s a more somber mood,” said Todd Sneller, the administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “The growth opportunity that existed some years ago is still out there in theory, but the reality that it’s going to take an awful lot of time, money and political battles to realize that opportunity” is causing consternation.
Thousands of barrels of ethanol now sit in storage because there is not enough gasoline in the market to blend it with — and blends calling for a higher percentage of ethanol have yet to catch on widely in the marketplace. Advanced biofuels from waste like corn stalks and wood chips have also yet to reach commercial-level production as some had predicted they would by now.
Referring to the plants that have been idled, Eric Lee, a commodities expert at Citibank, said: “Is that going to be temporary or permanent? It’s hard to say.”
Not only do the plants employ residents of these small communities, but they also provide a market for farmers to sell their crops and buy grain to feed their livestock. They attract a steady flow of trucks whose drivers use truck stops and patronize other local businesses. Contractors visiting the plants stay in local hotels. And the plants hold large accounts with local banks.
“It’s been quite an ordeal, honestly,” Mayor Christopher Jackson of Walhalla, N.D., said of the closing of an Archer Daniels Midland ethanol plant there last April.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/us/17ethanol.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Updated 4:27 pm, Friday, March 8, 2013
Here come those dastardly dams! In Asia, Africa and the Middle East, nations are aggressively building hydroelectric dams, seemingly heedless of the potentially disastrous effects on the countries downstream.
As examples, Laos broke ground on a Mekong River dam that's causing concern bordering on fury in Cambodia and Vietnam. India is enraged about a new Chinese dam going up on the Brahmaputra River. And Ethiopia's new dam on the Nile is angering Sudan, while Egypt has threatened war.
What's behind all this consternation - and worse? The concerns are multifaceted. In a broad sense, though, the rivers have provided sustenance for millions of people for millennia, and dams threaten that.
Because of this, in some places multinational commissions were set up decades ago to arbitrate disputes like these. One is the Mekong River Commission, which pledges to "place regional cooperation and basin-wide planning at the heart of our operation."
Well, that's not working.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/brinkley/article/Dams-may-unleash-torrent-of-ill-will-4340372.phpShare This Post
By Vinod Khosla
Special to The Bee
Vinod Khosla heads Khosla Ventures, a venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley.
Published: Thursday, Mar. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 13A
Large oil companies like to tell the public "We Agree" when it comes to clean energy.
But in Sacramento and Washington, their motto seems to be "It Can't Be Done."
A Jan. 31 article in the San Jose Mercury News, "Chevron and its allies take aim at California's low carbon fuel standard," demonstrates how the oil industry has once again banded together to oppose groundbreaking environmental initiatives.
Passed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, the LCFS seeks to lower the carbon intensity of transportation fuels like diesel and gasoline by at least 10 percent by 2020. The program encourages innovation while penalizing poor excuses for "renewable fuel" such as corn ethanol, which have been supported by politically driven subsidies, are unsustainable and have little environmental benefit. The size of California's market ensures that this gradual transition will have little short-term economic impact, while kick-starting clean alternatives.
Oil companies would have you believe that the goals of the fuel standard are either impossible or obscenely expensive. Since the LCFS was first passed in 2008, the oil industry has spent millions of dollars trying to convince legislators and the public that low-carbon alternatives don't exist or that they can't be produced in large enough volumes to meaningfully reduce demand for traditional fuels or that corn ethanol is the only biofuel technology around. This is one of the biggest myths perpetrated by oil companies.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/03/07/5242551/investment-needed-in-new-low-carbon.htmlShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: February 22
W hen Maryland and the District set floors requiring electric utilities to use increasing amounts of renewable energy, environmentalists cheered the prospect of money going to new solar and wind projects.
But today, several years after the legislation went into effect, it has had an unexpected outcome.
Thanks to a wrinkle in the definition of renewable, the lion’s share of the money used to meet those standards is flowing to paper companies that burn “black liquor,” a byproduct of the wood-pulping process. Paper mills have been using black liquor to generate most of their power needs since the 1930s.
Environmentalists are up in arms over what they see as a perversion of the intent of the law. Instead of encouraging new clean technology, they say, it is rewarding an old practice that emits as much carbon dioxide as burning coal.
“When the renewable portfolio standard first passed, it was unknown how much [black liquor] would get into it,” said Mike Tidwell, head of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who appeared smiling in a photo of the signing ceremony when the measure first became law. “It turned out to be a lot, and it’s time for it to come out.” He added, “It’s time for Maryland to stop contributing to that rip-off. Black liquor is the pink slime of energy in this state.”
But lobbyists for the paper companies say that black liquor should be treated the same as any other biofuel.
“It’s biomass. If you don’t burn it, you put it in a landfill or throw it in the ocean,” said Bill Pitcher, who, as a lobbyist for the Luke mill in western Maryland, helped negotiate the language in the bill. “It’s not a pollution thing. It’s an energy thing.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/md-dc-utilities-pay-paper-mills-burning-black-liquor-for-alternative-fuel-credits/2013/02/22/440078da-696b-11e2-95b3-272d604a10a3_story.htmlShare This Post
By Brad Plumer , Updated: February 20, 2013
America’s prairies are shrinking. Spurred on by high commodity prices and a biofuels rush, farmers are digging up grasslands in the northern Plains to plant crops at the quickest pace since the 1930s. While that’s been a boon for farmers, the upheaval could create unexpected problems.
A new study by Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of South Dakota State University finds that U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields between 2006 and 2011, a period of soaring crop prices and biofuel mandates (right). In states like Iowa and South Dakota, some 5 percent of pasture is turning into cropland each year.
It’s a big transformation in the heart of the country: The authors conclude that the rates of grassland loss are “comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia.” And those changes are already having plenty of impacts.Share This Post
By ANDREW HIGGINS February 20, 2013
KRAFLA, Iceland — Soon after work began here on a power plant to harness some of the vast reserves of energy stored at the earth’s crust, the ground moved and, along a six-mile-long fissure, began belching red-hot lava. The eruptions continued for nine years, prompting the construction of a stone and soil barrier to make sure that molten rock did not incinerate Iceland’s first geothermal power station.
While the menacing lava flow has long since stopped and Krafla is today a showcase of Iceland’s peerless mastery of renewable energy sources, another problem that has dogged its energy calculations for decades still remains: what to do with all the electricity that the country — which literally bubbles with steam, hot mud and the occasional cloud of volcanic ash — is capable of producing.
In a nation with only 320,000 people, the state-owned power company, Landsvirkjun, which operates the Krafla facility, sells just 17 percent of its electricity to households and local industry. The rest goes mostly to aluminum smelters owned by the American giant Alcoa and other foreign companies that have been lured to this remote North Atlantic nation by its abundant supply of cheap energy.
Now a huge and potentially far more lucrative market beckons — if only Iceland can find a way to transmit electricity across the more than 1,000 miles of frigid sea that separate it from the 500 million consumers of the European Union. “Prices are so low in Iceland that it is normal that we should want to sell to Europe and get a better price,” said Stein Agust Steinsson, the manager of the Krafla plant. “It is not good to put all our eggs in one basket.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/world/europe/iceland-weighs-exporting-the-power-bubbling-from-below.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post