Energy and Global Warming News for September 15th: States are climate battlegrounds; Turning everyday garbage into gasoline
"Energy and Global Warming News for September 15th: States are climate battlegrounds; Turning everyday garbage into gasoline"
The nation’s premier state-led climate programs are under attack by a growing coalition of industry, tea party and conservative activists.
Opponents to limits on greenhouse gas emissions see the fights in California and New Jersey as the next step in the fight over global warming policy after the demise of federal cap-and-trade legislation on Capitol Hill.
Among a hotel ballroom full of enterprise, cloud, and mobile apps, one product stood out at Demo Fall 2010: The gas pump at the E-Fuel stand. An upgrade from the EFuel100 Microfueler we covered in 2008, which converted sugars and discarded alcohols into ethanol fuel, the new MicroFusion Reactor can process nearly any “cellulosic waste” into ethanol. Said waste is pretty much anything that’d otherwise go into a compost bin.
CEO Thomas Quinn explained the fuel pump has a companion product, an electricity generator that harvests the heat from the chemical process. Quinn says Reactor-produced ethanol is less than a dollar a gallon if you provide your own waste to process, or you can pay an E-Fuel service company to deliver you ready-to-react waste to make fuel from–still saving money compared to buying ethanol the usual way.
Quinn sees businesses using E-Fuel systems to turn their garbage into fuel. He even sees the products in homes. The ethanol pump system, which requires the installation of a waste storage tank as well as the pump/reactor itself, is $10,000. The generator is $6,000. Quinn says there are government subsidy and incentive programs available that lower the cost to consumers and businesses.
Researchers around the world are trying to find new ways to reduce the time required to recharge the electric cars’ onboard batteries. Now, a group of fourteen students from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany have come up with a prototype electric car that is powered by electricity but unlike other electric vehicles, it doesn’t need a recharge.
Called the e-Quickie, the electric car runs only with wireless power and besides this it doesn’t get started by the batteries but by leaving the energy conductors on the ground. Receivers under the body of the car take energy from the tracks through electromagnetic induction, which is later used to power the electrical hub drive.
Having a weight of just 60kg, the all-electric car is composed of lightweight, high-tech materials. e-Quickie is also equipped with a small electric battery that serves as a buffer and it is powered by a 2kw motor, being able to reach a top speed of about 50kph. Due to its electric motor, the car has zero CO2 emissions.
Solar power arrived at Hacienda Townhomes this summer, changing this building’s reputation and cutting residents’ electricity bills. The first of its kind in San Diego County, Hacienda is among dozens of similar projects under way in the Golden State through a program called Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing, or MASH. A slice of the $3.2 billion California Solar Initiative (CSI), MASH plans to spend $108 million by 2016 putting solar panels on low-income homes.
“It’s designed to bring the benefits of solar to customers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to use it,” said Gary Barsley, manager of customer self-generation for utility Southern California Edison Co. “It allows us to have solar available as an option to more of our customers.”
MASH could have important political implications, said Paul Bledsoe, strategist at the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy. The project could help address a criticism, he said, that renewable energy programs cater largely to the wealthy. For solar power to succeed, he said, it must become mainstream. So far that has not been the case. A search of grants given under CSI shows that the highest residential subsidies have gone to San Mateo, Sonoma, Napa and Santa Barbara counties, among the state’s most exclusive. That has raised criticisms from watchdog groups. Electricity customers fund CSI subsidies through a surcharge on bills.
The number of clean energy partnerships between the United States and China reached a new peak when the U.S. Energy Department announced two new consortia aimed at tackling clean vehicles and ‘clean’ coal technology earlier this month. Along with a substantial funding pool totaling $100 million, split evenly among the two countries, the new consortia have put universities arm-in-arm with car companies, national laboratories, electric utilities and think tanks.
Dennis Assanis, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and lead investigator for the clean vehicles consortia said these partnerships were not simply born out of President Obama’s trip to Beijing last November, where he and Chinese president Hu Jintao first announced the endeavor. Instead, the new consortia network many researchers already looking to pool their resources into a coordinated national effort. “This new consortium is allowing us to knit together a web of partners — and the partners of the partners,” said Assanis.
The new consortium for clean coal development and deployment is headed by Jerry Fletcher, professor of energy, environmental and natural resource economics at West Virginia University. Fletcher is also director of WVU’s U.S.-China Energy Center, established in 2007 with a focus on coal research.
A new report released today by four American small business associations claims that 1.9 million jobs have been lost in the U.S. due to the Senate’s inability to pass clean energy legislation.
Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, American Businesses for Clean Energy and We Can Lead said in their report “A Costly Climate Of Inaction: 1.9 Million Jobs Lost Due To The U.S. Senate’s Failure To Advance Clean Energy/Climate Legislation” that China and other leading nations have gained more than $11 billion in job-creating clean-energy investments – with the U.S. losing an estimated $208 million every day – since the U.S. Senate abandoned comprehensive clean energy legislation in late July.
Essentially the report looks at private investment in clean energy and jobs that private investment would create. Since the Senate didn’t pass an RES (renewable electricity standard) or any kind of carbon legislation, it sent a message to investors that the country isn’t ready to get serious about clean energy.
The business associations point out that in the time that passed between the Senate recess and now, China overtook the U.S. to lead a quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable energy projects for the first time, according to Ernst & Young. Additionally, the U.S. has fallen more than $11 billion behind China and other leading nations in clean energy investments.
The use of water and fossil fuels by the U.S. Defense Department will decline by more than 20 percent in 10 years, the agency announced in Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in an executive order signed in October, called on federal agencies to reduce use of water and fossil fuels and set targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The White House said the federal government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008, making it the largest energy consumer in the United States.
The Pentagon announced it was outlining plans to cut water and fossil fuel consumption by more than 20 percent in the next decade. The Pentagon said its green-energy plan is in line with the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which for the first time linked climate change and energy to the department’s strategies.