Energy and Global Warming News for October 8: Over 90% of Americans support solar power development

92% of Americans support solar power development, study says

The vast majority — 92% — of Americans think it’s important for the country to develop and use solar power, according to a study released today, making the alternative energy option potentially one of the most popular things since puppies or ice cream.

The sentiment was echoed almost evenly across political parties, with 89% of Republicans, 94% of Democrats and 93% of Independents agreeing that solar energy is an important aim.

The 2009 Schott Solar Barometer, conducted by independent polling firm Kelton Research, found that 77% of respondents also believe the federal government should make solar power development a national priority. Nearly half are considering solar power options for their home or business, while 70% of those hope to make the switch in the next five years. Only 3% already use the sun for energy.

If, as president of the U.S., they had to choose one energy source to fund, 43% of respondents would chose solar, followed by the 17% who picked wind, the 12% who settled on natural gas and the 10% who selected nuclear.

And yet only 12% of those polled could say that they were extremely informed about solar power while 74% said they wished they knew more about solar power options.

The study, conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, was commissioned by German photovoltaic company Schott Solar.

A Strong Climate Treaty Could Mean More Jobs Than If We Continue Using Coal

The world stands to gain 6.9 million jobs by 2030 in the clean energy sector if a strong deal is reached in Copenhagen, according to a report released recently by Greenpeace International and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual. Conversely, the global coal industry – which currently supports about 4.7 million employees worldwide – is likely to contract by more than 1.4 million jobs by 2030, due to rationalization measures in existing coal mines.

“Global leaders can tackle the twin crises of global economic recession and climate change head on by investing in renewable energy,” said Damon Moglen, Greenpeace USA global arming campaign director. “For each job lost in the coal industry our green energy scenario, known as the Energy [R]evolution, creates three new jobs in the renewable power industry. We can choose green jobs and growth or unemployment, ecological and social collapse.”

Greenpeace’s latest research provides a model for cutting emissions while achieving economic growth, illustrates how the transition to clean energy will provide more jobs by 2030 in the power sector than would be available if it stays on the current carbon-intensive path. However, leaders and governments must act on this information as soon as possible to provide necessary jobs and retraining.

Midwest govs. see clean energy cooperation need

Governors from across the Midwest are working together to promote clean energy industry and infrastructure in the region despite heated competition between their states for new investment and jobs.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said Wednesday that recent agreements by members of the 11-state Midwestern Governors Association aim to help make the region a center for clean energy.

“You have a lot of these little battles … that go back and forth,” Doyle said. “But I think one of the things we’ve worked hard on as Midwest governors is to understand that our bigger picture is that we’re competing as a region.”

The association’s two-day Jobs and Energy Forum in Detroit that started Tuesday was focused on efforts to leverage the Midwest’s natural resources, manufacturing expertise and skilled work force for an economy based on clean energy, such as wind, solar and other renewable resources.

Agreements include the Midwestern Energy Infrastructure Accord, which focuses on coordinating the development of improved electricity transmission across the region, a pipeline for biofuel, and technology capturing the emission of carbon dioxide from burning coal for underground storage.

A jobs platform lays the groundwork for training workers to handle jobs a clean-energy economy would create. But the cooperation only goes so far, especially among industrial Great Lakes states that have massive amounts of manufacturing capacity in the wake of decades of plant closings.

Climate a Bigger Challenge Than Recession, China Says

China, the world’s biggest polluter, said climate change is a challenge that it shares with the world and is a more formidable one than the global recession.

The world’s third-largest economy is committed to helping fight climate change and has taken “responsible” steps, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Liu Yanhua said at a conference in Hong Kong today, reiterating the stance of President Hu Jintao.

Industrialized economies such as the U.S. and developing countries led by China are deadlocked on how much rich nations should help poor ones deal with climate change and how much wealthy countries should cut emissions. President Hu said last month China will cut emissions in proportion to economic growth, without giving specific targets or goals.

“High-ranking members of the government are now publicly saying before the Copenhagen climate-change summit what China is doing to tackle the problem and that it’s prepared to do more,” Yang Ailun, a spokeswoman at environmental group Greenpeace, said by phone from Beijing. “The aim is also to put pressure on countries like the U.S. to make greater commitments to reduce emissions and to counter arguments China’s not doing enough.”

California green push to staunch job losses -study

California’s plan to slow climate change will boost the state economy and save hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk from rising energy costs, a study by a University of California economist said on Wednesday.

The most populous U.S. state leads the nation with its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 with measures from encouraging energy efficiency to getting a third of state electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar. But the plan is under attack from businesses and some academics who say the costs of going green will bankrupt many enterprises.

The state’s decisions are also likely to affect the country at large, since federal policy often follows California’s lead on environmental issues, from vehicle standards to plans passed in the state and being debated in the U.S. Congress to cap emissions and let companies trade credits to pollute.

Rising fossil fuel prices would cut state economic output by $84 billion and slash 626,000 jobs from state payrolls in 2020, if U.S. Department of Energy fuel forecasts are used instead of the outlook by the state energy commission, according to the study by economist David Roland-Holst of the University of California, Berkeley.

But the move to get a third of state electricity from renewables and become more efficient would reverse the decline, the study added. Instead, 2020 economic output would rise $20 billion from current projections and 112,000 jobs would be created.

Executives urge lawmakers to pass climate bill

Executives from about 150 companies, many involved in renewable energy technologies, heard a pep talk at the White House and then combed the halls of Congress on Wednesday to argue for passage of a climate bill that is facing an uphill fight in the Senate.

The executives in scores of meetings with senators and their staffs sought to counter opponents’ arguments that the climate bill, which will force a shift away from fossil fuels, also will lead to much higher energy prices and cost American jobs.

The business executives from more than 30 states argued that climate legislation and a shift of energy priorities away from fossil fuels could lead to a new industrial revolution and create 1.7 million jobs related to clean energy technologies “” from developing new batteries to building windmills and the next generation of solar panels.

The climate legislation is needed to create markets and jobs, said John Doerr, a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, a leading venture capital firm on Wall Street. Otherwise, he cautioned, these technologies will be developed and commercially produced elsewhere and “we will be working for the Chinese.”

The executives said they wanted to bring a message to senators: that the successes of their companies shows the viability of the clean energy development and that limits on greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, will lead to the creation of new companies and industries.

But, they argued, without action in Congress, these same technologies will be produced elsewhere, likely in China.

“That’s the issue, jobs. What’s at question is who’s going to build the batteries and who’s going to get the jobs,” said David Vieau, president of A123Systems Inc., a Massachusetts-based company that makes high-power lithium ion batteries for hybrid cars and other uses.

“If we don’t act (on climate legislation) it’s absolutely certain we’re going to get a minimal piece of that pie.”

The same theme was heard earlier in the day as the executives gathered at the White House to hear from Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

9 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for October 8: Over 90% of Americans support solar power development

  1. Leif says:

    Posts like this make my day and more. Perhaps we will get it together yet.
    It is ironic that the GOP are more “backward” than their “boogyman” China.

  2. Dr. Matania Ginosar says:

    Of course solar energy is popular, it is magically appealing, but should we run our national policy by popularity of an unaware public, or by science and economic realities? The federal deficit is about one and a half Trillions now. And we need to do so much to reduce global warming. Photovoltaic is a luxury we can not afford.

    Most people love solar because they only see panels on the roof that supply “free” electricity- and know nothing about the complexity and cost involved. They also know little about central tower Solar Thermal plants that are considerably more cost-effective source of energy.
    Wind is not so popular since there is nothing magical about it. It is a simple but effective technology.

    There are laws of physics that govern our reality and we should understand them: To grasp the reality you need understand the details.

    The reasons why current technology silicon solar photovoltaic is expensive and unlikely to be much lower in cost are: 1. Sun has low energy density, 2. only fraction of it can be used, 3. PV system must cover large areas, and 4. PV requires high technology material to generate electricity.

    1. Sun energy is weak: The sun peak energy (in good areas) is just one kW per square meter, but the average 24 hrs output is just a quarter of that.
    2. Just a fraction of the sun energy can generate electricity in silicon panels.
    A simple explanation of the physics: Only a fraction of the sun energy spectrum can generate electricity because when the energy is below the require threshold it is unable to elevate the electron to the next level to create electrical current. If the wave length is above the correct portion of the spectrum, the energy is wasted as heat reducing the efficiency of the silicon panel.
    3. You must have full coverage of a large area to generate sufficient amount of energy.
    4. Must use high technology material- silicon panels to cover this large area, a costly investment. These Silicon panels are made from highly refined silicon that requires a considerable amount of electricity to make. Electricity prices would not go down with time, but would increase.
    5. PV has the longest by far energy payback period.

    Compare this with the simplicity and effectiveness of wind energy:
    1. We install wind systems were nature already concentrated the wind to have high energy per unit area.
    2. Only a very small amount of material needed. The blade of the wind turbine sweeps a very large area but it is only 3% of the area swept. The total material needed, including tower and machinery, is small.
    3. The material and technology are very simple and well known: blade, gearbox, generator and control.
    4. Wind energy has the shortest energy payback period.

    Wind energy is already supplying the largest amount of electrical energy of all alternatives and is expanding in the fastest rate globally. Experienced people are less sentimental than the public. They want to make long term profit. Society benefit by reduced GHG.

    No government support should be given to any of these technologies. They are mature technologies that generate billions in profits annually. Judicious R&D support to develop new ways to generate electricity from the sun, however, are desirable, I believe.

  3. Leif says:

    I have always advocated a cost analysis of all energy productions on a level playing field. Only if there is some cost placed on CO2 to mitigate the free ride that fossil fuels have enjoyed all these past years and sustainable energy has been forced to match will we be able to have a true cost per kWh. Even without a level field the cheapest mitigation is the kWh we do not use and then wind does appear to be next in line. However if the public is enamored with solar by all means get the ball rolling. Spend some money on R&D, we may surprise ourselves.

  4. Stephan says:

    92% of the people votes for Solar energy. Meaning that the president representing this population should also support sustainable energy souces and he should commit to his attentance in Copenhagen.

    More commited bussineses can be found in this Green News.

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Hurricane Parma is dumping rain on Luzon for the thrid time now:
    (Scroll down to the end)

    This after an earlier tropical strom dumped record breaking rains on and around Manila. Looks to be an extreme weather event to me.

    Need to stop emitting and start sequestering.

  6. Ron Broberg says:

    When driving from the west, into New Mexico, one can arrange a trip off the Interstates unto one of the blue highways, US 60, or a little further to the south, one can wind your way in via small mountain roads through the Apache and Gila National Forests. And as one descends from these southern tendrils of the Rockies, you come into a valley dotted with giant dish radio antennas. It is a beautiful sight, the NRAO Very Large Array outside Magdalena NM.

    I often arrange my trips to get the opportunity to drive by.
    Hopefully, I will get to see similar solar arrays in my lifetime.

  7. Jill Mkharo says:

    Indeed Solar Energy is popular especially to the lay man.An awareness compaign should be carried out throughout the world, where everyone becomes knowledgable about renewable energy alternatives. It should differentiate, the various sources of renewable energy types, advantages, disadvantages, and their economic analysis outcome.Truly people in general a biased towards solar pvs and yet there is wind energy, biomass/biogas,hydropower and concentrating collectors.

    Jill Mkharo
    MSC in Renewable Energy Engineering student

  8. Leif says:

    In some applications solar can even be the most cost effective option. In remote locations that only need small output, (charging cell phones in rural Africa?) in windless valleys, or perhaps where it is impracticable to bring required equipment for assembly of large wind mills.

  9. Leif (8) is correct, in some locations,where you are separated from the grid, PV can be very useful and practical. Remote locations in the third world, of course.
    Also,if well off people wish to put PV on their roofs but do not get any subsidy, it is up to them to spend their money the way they wish.
    The problem is when people get public subsidies that should go to more cost-effective ways to reduce global warming gases.