"Top Energy and Climate Stories for April 10"
Article of the Day
Defying the current economic down turn a Florida developer announced plans to build the United State’s first solar-powered city. Solar photovoltaic cells will power the city’s homes, offices, and factories, and the project will go up about 20 miles from Fort Myers, ground zero for the foreclosure crisis:
“Babcock Ranch” would be built on 17,000 acres in Charlotte and Lee counties, with more than half of the land set aside for nature preserves, agriculture and other open space. Florida Power & Light Co. would build a 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic array to supply electricity to the development’s 6 million square feet of residential, industrial and retail buildings….
Developer Syd Kitson is betting heavily that he is going to attract investors, businesses and 45,000 residents to his $2 billion ranch community, which he plans to start building next year. He is promising 19,500 homes, 20,000 permanent jobs, open spaces and plenty of carbon-free megawatts.
“Solar is just the first step,” Kitson told reporters…. “Babcock Ranch will be a true living laboratory of the new-energy economy … where innovative companies can design, build and use the renewable and efficient technologies that customers across the country and around the globe will need.”
Three years ago, Florida agreed to buy 73,000 surrounding acres from Kitson’s company, Kitson & Partners, and preserve the land for hunting, camping, hiking and other recreation. The land deal still ranks as the largest of its kind in state history….
Charles Pattison, president of the conservation group 1,000 Friends of Florida, also applauded the Babcock Ranch plan. Kitson bought the land in 2005 from a family that had used it for timber and ranching since the early 20th century….
Kitson … said he is attempting to persuade several companies to set up shop in Babcock Ranch. He is targeting solar panel manufacturers, lithium-ion battery makers and other clean-energy companies.
Legislation and Policy
E&E Daily (Subs. Req’d)
The EPA continues its strong intervention in reviewing filthy mountaintop removal permits, a process that has gone unchecked for nearly a decade. In this instance the Army Corps was asked to hold permits for 3 Appalachian operations, 2 in W. Virginia and 1 in Virginia:
U.S. EPA is objecting to three more federal permits for mountaintop-removal coal mining.
EPA asked the lead federal permitting agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, last week to temporarily hold up two permits for mountaintop-removal operations in West Virginia and another in Virginia.
The permits are for A&G Coal Corp.’s Ison Rock Ridge Surface Mine in Wise County, Va., a Massey Energy mine in Kanawha County, W.Va., and a Frasure Creek Mining operation in Mingo County, W.Va.
EPA expressed concern that the permits would threaten water quality, saying they failed to adequately account for the effects of dumping rock from blasted mountaintops into valley streams and rivers.
The Globe and Mail
[Coal] miners ‘need not fear’ that Democrats would ever tolerate a climate-change bill that abandoned the coal industry, the Speaker of the House of Representatives told The Washington Post.
David Brooks discusses the complexities of state-level climate legislation with his usual short-sighted, conservative bent.
If you want an indication of how complicated it will be for New Hampshire to cut the pollution that contributes to climate change, flip through the couple hundred pages of the new statewide Action Plan, released March 25 with great fanfare after 15 months of work, and note what isn’t there.
New York Times
In a flurry of electric vehicle activity, three back-to-back announcements this week have placed a spotlight on Oregon’s plans to be the friendliest state in the nation in which to build, sell and buy electric cars.
The pending extinction of traditional incandescent bulbs in the United States and abroad has created an enormous market opportunity for energy-efficient lighting technologies. The current shortcomings of compact fluorescent lights and pricey LED bulbs show that future dominance of the American socket is still very much up for grabs.
Vu1 (that is, “view one”), a company based in Seattle, thinks it has a shot.
Vu1 said it plans to introduce a fully dimmable, mercury-free, instant-on bulb for recessed ceiling fixtures by the end of this year. It will, the company says, last about 6,000 hours – or six times the lifespan of an incandescent – and have a price tag similar to high-end C.F.L. reflector bulbs: about $18 to $22.
In terms of daytime usage between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., the day of the year with the lowest electricity consumption has fallen in April or May every year since 2000, according to New England’s grid operator.
The single lowest energy-use day has coincided with Easter Sunday on three of those years.
Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way to use an ancient life form to create one of the newest technologies for solar energy, in systems that may be surprisingly simple to build compared to existing silicon-based solar cells.
This technology may be slightly more expensive than some existing approaches to make dye-sensitized solar cells, but can potentially triple the electrical output.
In the race to renewable energy, organic solar cells are now really starting to take off. They can be manufactured easily and cheaply, they have low environmental impact, and since they are compatible with flexible substrates, they could be used in many applications such as packaging, clothing, flexible screens, or for recharging cell phones and laptops.
The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the Earth’s tools to offset natural carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the ‘carbon sink’ in the North Atlantic is the primary gate for carbon dioxide (CO2) entering the global ocean and stores it for about 1500 years. The oceans have removed nearly 30 per cent of anthropogenic (man-made) emissions over the last 250 years. However, several recent studies show a dramatic decline in the North Atlantic Ocean’s carbon sink.
Mexico City officials have shut down a main pipeline providing fresh water to millions of residents because reserves have fallen to record low levels.
The closure, due to last 36 hours, will affect five million people, or a quarter of the city’s population.
Unusually low rainfall last year and major leakage are blamed for leaving reservoirs less than half full.
The world watches as Australia reels from the shocks of climate change. Drought, fires, monsoons and mosquito epidemics are just the beginning for the continent and the planet as global temperatures increase. Scientists say that Australia’s set of problems is a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the world.
A three-person royal commission has been convened to determine whether climate change is to blame for a February heat wave in which more than 200 people died and for the nation’s worst-ever wildfires that killed 173 the following week.
Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten