Energy and Global Warming News for July 31st, 2009: DOE puts up $30 billion in clean energy loan guarantees; Worlds biggest factory for making towers for wind power gives hope to Colorado steel town

$30B available to jumpstart renewable energy, ‘smart grid’ projects

The Energy Department is making up to $30 billion in loan guarantee authority available for renewable energy and electric grid modernization projects.

DOE announced yesterday it was ready to accept applications for about $8.5 billion in loan guarantee authority for advanced renewable energy projects made available in the department’s 2009 spending bill and $3.25 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to cover the subsidy costs that will unleash the billions of dollars in loan guarantee authority for renewable energy, transmission projects and biofuels….

“This administration has set a goal of doubling renewable electricity generation over the next three years,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “To achieve that goal, we need to accelerate renewable project development by ensuring access to capital for advanced technology projects. We also need a grid that can move clean energy from the places it can be produced to the places where it can be used and that can integrate variable sources of power, like wind and solar,” he said.

New Energy Injects Hope in a Colorado Steel Town

Steelworkers have toiled in this unlikely spot in south-central Colorado since the days of the cowboys and the railroad barons. Renewable energy, on the other hand, is a new concept, mostly on the horizon.

Joe Pacheco stands at the crossroads.

Mr. Pacheco, 44, was laid off last month from Rocky Mountain Steel, where he made pipe for the oil industry. Weeks earlier, knowing he might lose his job, he put in his application at a giant plant under construction just down the road. He is hoping for a call from Vestas Towers America, a Danish company that is scheduled this fall to open the world’s biggest factory making towers for wind energy.

“I loved the mill and loved working at the mill,” Mr. Pacheco said over a plate of stuffed sopapillas at the Mill Stop Cafe, a hangout for steelworkers on the south side of this Hispanic-flavored city. “But I don’t bury my head in the sand”….

In addition to the $240 million tower plant here, Vestas is opening two other factories in Brighton, Colo., added to one already open in Windsor, to manufacture and assemble components for making wind power. The company plans to hire up to 2,500 manufacturing workers in the state by next year.

For Community Colleges, Wind Technician Training Is a Growth Business

Wind turbine technicians are strongly in demand “” and community colleges are moving quickly to fill the need.

In recent months, the Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan has added a wind course, as has the Lake Region State College in North Dakota. Riverland Community College in Minnesota will hold its first turbine classes this fall. Altogether, Christine Real de Azua, a spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association, said there are more than 100 such programs for renewable energy around the country “” more than 80 of them created in the last two years.

Scientists Study How To Stack The Deck For Organic Solar Power

A new class of economically viable solar power cells””cheap, flexible and easy to make””has come a step closer to reality as a result of recent work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where scientists have deepened their understanding of the complex organic films at the heart of the devices.

Organic photovoltaics, which rely on organic molecules to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity, are a hot research area because in principle they have significant advantages over traditional rigid silicon cells. Organic photovoltaics start out as a kind of ink that can be applied to flexible surfaces to create solar cell modules that can be spread over large areas as easily as unrolling a carpet. They’d be much cheaper to make and easier to adapt to a wide variety of power applications, but their market share will be limited until the technology improves.

‘Cash for Clunkers’ Car-Rebate Plan Sells Out in Days

New-car shoppers appear to have already snapped up all the $1 billion that Congress appropriated for the “cash for clunkers” program, leading the Transportation Department to tell auto dealers Thursday night to stop offering the rebates.

But a White House official said the program had not been suspended, creating confusion about its status. The program offers $3,500 to $4,500 for people who trade in an old car for a new one with higher fuel economy.

In a statement issued Thursday evening, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said: “We are working tonight to assess the situation facing what is obviously an incredibly popular program. Auto dealers and consumers should have confidence that all valid CARS transactions that have taken place to date will be honored.”

Recession helps reshape India carbon deals

The recession and falling prices of U.N.-backed carbon credits are changing the way carbon deals are structured in India, project developers and consultants say, with more players seeking partners to spread financial risks.

India is the second top source of carbon offsets under the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM, and until recently clean-energy projects were developed by Indian investors by themselves. Most usually hung on to the credits hoping for higher prices.

But with prices of the offsets called certified emissions reductions (CERs) falling and the number of credit buyers and investors declining, project developers are looking to find partners, such as utilities in rich nations or investment banks.

Waste Water Treatment Plant Mud Used As ‘Green’ Fuel

Scientists have shown that using mud from waste water treatment plants as a partial alternative fuel can enable cement factories to reduce their CO2 emissions and comply with the Kyoto Protocol, as well as posing no risk to human health and being profitable. These are the results of an environmental impact assessment.

Dependency on oil and coal could be coming to an end. Researchers from the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) have analysed the environmental and human health impacts of an alternative fuel that solves various problems simultaneously. This is the solid waste from the water treatment plants of large cities.

The scientists have carried out the first study into this method at a cement plant in Vallcarca (Catalonia), which has been producing cement for more than 100 years, and they confirm in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research that it is “the best option for getting rid of mud that would have had to be dumped elsewhere, while also powering the plant”.

Index Insurance Has Potential To Help Manage Climate Risks And Reduce Poverty

“¦For poor people, a variable and unpredictable climate can critically restrict livelihood options and limit development. For example, banks are unlikely to lend to farmers if they think a drought will cause widespread defaults, even if the farmers could pay back loans in most years. The farmers’ lack of access to credit limits their ability to buy improved seeds, fertilizers and other inputs.

Index insurance represents an attractive alternative for managing weather and climate risk because it uses a weather index, such as rainfall, to determine payouts. This resolves a number of problems that make traditional insurance unworkable in rural parts of developing countries. With index insurance contracts, an insurance company doesn’t need to visit the policy holder to determine premiums or assess damages. Instead, if the rainfall recorded by gauges is below an earlier, agreed-upon threshold, the insurance pays out. Such a system significantly lowers transaction costs. Having insurance allows these policy holders to apply for bank loans and other types of credit previously unavailable to them.

4 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for July 31st, 2009: DOE puts up $30 billion in clean energy loan guarantees; Worlds biggest factory for making towers for wind power gives hope to Colorado steel town

  1. Col says:

    ACEEE Report: Energy efficiency not captured in economic models of climate action costs

  2. paulm says:

    VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Premier Gordon Campbell says the fire risk in B.C. is the worst we’ve ever seen–even worse than 2003. Due to the recent heat wave and dry weather, 85 per cent of the province is facing a high-to-extreme fire risk.

  3. paulm says:

    So, do peak/extreme weather events tell us anything about the climate?

  4. paulm says:

    more very sad news…

    Alaska’s biggest tundra fire sparks climate warning

    Pristine tundra takes up about 30 to 70 grams of carbon per square metre during the summer months, whereas the severely burned site lost about 40 to 120 grams per square metre. The team also found that the most severely burned terrain absorbed 71 per cent more solar radiation than normal, warming faster as a result and losing a layer of permafrost 5 to 10 centimetres deep.

    “That may not seem like a lot,” says Rocha, “but over the entire fire scar you’re talking about 5 to 10 cm of water over a 1000 sq km area.” Plus there’s the double whammy of positive feedback: as tundra burns and emits carbon, it melts the permafrost – and that releases more carbon into the atmosphere. “Along with the melting ice in the permafrost, you’re also exposing more old carbon that was stored in that freezer [as organic material] and is being allowed to decompose and reintroduce itself to the atmosphere.”