Category Archives: policy

Nick’s back from ASES

Our correspondent on the ground, Nick C., just got back to us with a report from ASES. We appreciate Sun Ra as well. Heres what he had to say:

It been a hot second my ninjas, but I just got back from the American Solar Energy Society conference in Cleveland Ohio. Big things are on the horizon for the solar industry, from First Solar’s announcement that they have signed contracts for in excess of 650 MW of PV at a cost of $1.88 per watt. Why is this particularly exciting? Well, right now the market price is somewhere in the range of $3.50 a Watt (http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=49298). Do your thing First Solar, is what I say. On the federal level, there is some really cool legislation being considered in both the House ( H.R. 550) and Senate (S.590) that would extent the Investment Tax Credit for solar for up to 8 years and eliminate the $2000 tax credit cap for residential solar systems. What does this all mean??? The investment tax credit (check SEIA.org) currently covers 30% of a solar systems cost for both commercial and residential applications, though there is a cap of $2000 for residential. The newly proposed legislation would extend this credit for 8 years (meaning all those capitalist banker types will be a lot more amenable to throwing investment dollars at solar) and eliminate the cap for residential systems (meaning the average systems of 3.5 kW that now costs about $35 k minus would be eligible for a credit of over $10,000 instead of the capped $2000). What’s it all mean? Each one of those dollars brings us a little bit closer to grid cost parity, energy independence and no more of that stinking, nasty coal.

From an industry growth perspective, the Prometheus Institute has recently released projections (Prometheus.org) that the solar industry will maintain its phat growth (40% that is) through 2010, that’s both production capacity and installations. That means a lot more solar, falling PV prices, and a big middle finger to the fossil fuel economy. I also attended presentations from Spectrolab that outlined their 44% efficient concentrating PV technology (http://spectrolab.com/prd/terres/cell-main.htm) And our good friends at SunPower are also introducing a 23% efficient polysilicon wafer (SunPower presentation at ASES), now given the industry standard ain’t much better than 16%, id say we should be looking for big things from SunPower and co.

All and all, while the stuffy ass reporters at the NYT, seem to think that we are way too excited about solar (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/16/business/16solar.html?_r=1&oref=slogin), I’d say they got it wrong, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. The growth I suspect we are looking at will be in terms of orders of magnitude (10x) rather than incremental). And as a wise ninja once said, “space is the place, and the sun is the one”

thanks to nick

H.R. 6: CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 – is it enough?

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Automakers had to know they were in serious trouble when Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat with deep blue-collar roots, announced that she had lost patience with their annual objections to higher gas mileage rules.

“When automobile manufacturers told me they could not meet the increased standards, I listened,” said Ms. Mikulski, who said she had always been swayed by the potential loss of middle-class manufacturing jobs. “I listened year after year, and now I have listened for more than 20 years. After 20 years, I firmly do believe it is time for a change.”

Bolstered by such converts as Ms. Mikulski, the Senate just before midnight Thursday approved an energy bill that would for the first time in more than two decades require auto companies to produce cars and trucks that get substantially more out of a gallon of gas.

But that was about the only industry it took on. The measure, approved on a bipartisan 65-to-37 vote, essentially spared oil and gas companies and major utilities and fell short of goals initially set by supporters in areas like renewable fuels.

cea2007.png

Jan 18, 2007: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by roll call vote. The totals were 264 Ayes, 163 Nays, 8 Present/Not Voting. View Votes (roll no. 40)

cea2007senate.png

Jun 21, 2007: This bill passed in the Senate by roll call vote. The totals were 65 Ayes, 27 Nays, 7 Present/Not Voting. View Votes (roll no. 226)

Washington, DC [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] In a flurry of activity, the U.S. Senate voted down two amendments yesterday that would have created $32 billion worth of energy tax incentives and a National Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) requiring utilities to generate 15% of electricity from renewables by 2020. Later that same evening however, the Senate passed H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, 65-27.

The Clean Energy Act of 2007 is designed to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve.

But two key amendments that would have provided billions of dollars worth of incentives and revenue for the U.S. renewable energy industry were rejected. The Energy Tax Package—approved by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Mean committee earlier this week—contained a five-year extension of the tax credit for the production of electricity from wind, geothermal, biomass as well as the solar ITC extension.

Bill Status

Having passed in both the House and Senate, the bill may proceed to a conference committee of senators and representatives to work out differences in the versions of the bill each chamber approved. The bill then awaits the signature of the President before becoming law.

[NYTimes, RebewableEnergyAccess, www.govtrack.us]

SAVE OUR PLANET – ACT TODAY

Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann

Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bolesch

During last week’s G8 Summit held in Heiligendamm, a the luxurious German resort town, the leaders of the 8 richest countries in the world got together to schmooze and talk about some pretty serious global issues – “The framework conditions for the global economy, involving the largest emerging economies in the system of global responsibility, climate protection issues and African development will be key focuses of this year’s G8 Summit in Heiligendamm.” Judging from the pictures from the event, everyone was getting along and having a great time. But did they actually accomplish anything? Since this is green.mnp, we’ll just focus on the “climate protection issues” at the moment. All 8 of the countries’ leaders agreed to hold UN talks on climate change later this year, which is a promising step toward making real goals. However, predictably, the US was the only country to refuse a fixed emissions reduction target.

Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann
Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann

Avaaz.org, a global action web community that puts together campaigns on “major global issues like poverty, climate change, human rights and global security”, organized a petition to bring to the G8 Summit. Here is a blog entry on the results of the petition, their experience at the Summit, and the future of the global climate issue:

06/11/07

Let’s become unstoppable

365,000 of us stood together at the G8 summit to save our planet. 200,000 of us added our voices to the global chorus in the last 10 days alone.

Gazing out on the Baltic, amazed, tired and humbled, taking a deep breath. You’re here too.

Overhead, the police helicopters still circle. Down on the beach, the media are getting massages. Beyond the fence, clowns and water cannons. It’s a circus, but the power is only too real.

We can’t stop now. The coming weeks and months are crucial. In the summit chambers, the G8+5 polluters have agreed on the global climate talks we demanded – but the kind of deal is still up for grabs. Will it be enough, fast enough?

Just in the last few days, Europe, Japan and Canada started to converge on a global goal of 50% or greater emissions cuts by 2050. In the end the US was the only G7 dissenter, Russia standing on the sidelines. So the summit’s tortured language speaks of “substantial emissions cuts” and goals without numbers. But the process we demanded – UN talks in Bali this December – looks strengthened.

President Bush only conceded global warming might be real in January. But this week his government felt compelled to shift, even if it’s trying wrecking tactics too.

That sabotage can’t succeed if we the people stand up for the right path, all around the globe. Bush is increasingly isolated even in his own country – the American public and the US Congress are coming behind bold action on climate change.

And he’s isolated in the world – he can’t rely on other big polluters like China and Brazil, now moving faster than expected toward the climate savers’ camp. The “plus 5″ big developing countries said they wanted a stronger statement from the G8. A big international poll just showed 65% of Chinese people and 62% of Indians support requiring their governments to act as well.

It’s more than watch this space. Let’s fill this space. To stop climate catastrophe, we need a massive global effort from every corner of the world over the coming weeks, months and years.

Let’s become unstoppable. We won’t stop now – let’s grow our petition even further before December’s summit.

365,000 and counting…

You can hear Ricken Patel talking about Avaaz’s G8 climate campaign on the global affairs magazine openDemocracy’s podcast here.

Next climate stop: Live Earth. 7th July, 2007.

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green.mnp encourages you to sign the petition (if you are into that kind of thing) and check out the other campaigns Avaaz.org has in the works.

[Avaaz.org, g-8.de]

Climate Panel Reaches Consensus on the Need to Reduce Harmful Emissions

It has been a busy year for these scientists. Here’s a bit on a new piece about to come out:

In an all-night session capping four days of talks in Bangkok, economists, scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries agreed early today on the last sections of a report outlining ways to limit such emissions, led by carbon dioxide, an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal and oil.

The final report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said prompt slowing of emissions could set the stage later in the century for stabilization of the concentration of carbon dioxide, which, at 380 parts per million now, has risen more than a third since the start of the industrial revolution and could easily double from the preindustrial level within decades.

According to several authors, the final version estimates that bringing global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to levels measured in 2000 would require a cost on released carbon dioxide of $50 to $100 a ton, roughly on a par — in terms of fossil fuel prices — with an additional 50 cents to $1.00 for a gallon of gasoline.

The report projects that this shift might cause a small blunting of global economic activity, resulting in an overall reduction of perhaps one-tenth of a percentage point per year through 2100 in the world’s total economic activity, the authors said.

[NYTimes]

Bill Proposes Climate Study Focused on U.S. Defense

Remember the green.mnp post, The Warm on Terror?  Well here is an update:

Democrats are arguing that large-scale crises caused by climate change, like drought, pandemics, famine and rising sea levels, will affect how the United States conducts foreign policy and where American military resources will be used over the next several decades.

The proposed National Intelligence Estimate would project the effects of global warming over the next 30 years, examining political, social, economic and agricultural risks.

But Republicans are dismissing the proposed study as an unnecessary burden on intelligence agencies already weighed down by the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan and by efforts to combat Islamic radicalism worldwide.

“The Republican members believe that those resources should be directed to clear and present dangers that pose a threat to the lives of Americans and our families,” said Jamal Ware, a spokesman for Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee.

[NYTimes]

Surviving the Climate Crisis

The Nation has a new issue out, with much of it dedicated to climate change and energy issues. Most of the articles are all available free of charge on their website (some are subscription only).

Topics include carbon offsets, green utilities, climate change, carbon taxes and trading, air travel, China, and more.

Follow the link below for more:

[The Nation]

Fuel-efficient cars dent states’ road budgets

Cars and trucks are getting more fuel-efficient, and that’s good news for drivers. But it’s a headache for state highway officials, who depend on gasoline taxes to build and maintain roads.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by 2009 the tax receipts that make up most of the federal highway trust fund will be $21 billion shy of what’s needed just to maintain existing roads, much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to compensate for highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are exploring other, potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway money.

“In 10 years, we are going to be in an intolerable financial position, and we need to start fixing it now before the problem starts,” says James Whitty, manager of an alternative funding project in the Oregon transportation department.

[WallStreetJournal]

Biofuels Index Would Aid Consumers, Market

With all the confusion out there, this could certainly be useful:

The debate over whether biofuels like ethanol are better for the environment than fossil fuels has left many consumers confused and unsure where to fill their gas tanks.

Much of this confusion could be eliminated with a biofuels rating system that would reflect the positive or negative environmental impacts of a particular fuel, according to a group of University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

A ratings system, like the Michelin stars for hotels and restaurants, would take into account all environmental aspects of biofuels processing and production, from the way biofuel crops are tilled and fertilized to the kinds of energy — coal, natural gas or biomass, for example — used to process them.

Such a system would not only help consumers make decisions about where to fuel up but, perhaps more importantly, stimulate competition among fuel producers to market the greenest fuels possible, driving the less-green biofuels out of the marketplace in favor of ones that really serve the planet.

[RenewableEnergyAccess]

Chris Dodd becomes first presidential candidate to support a Carbon Tax

That is why, as president, I will not only expand cap and trade, I will go further — I will enact a Corporate Carbon Tax.

You cannot be serious about acting on the urgent threat of global warming, about making us less captive to Middle East Oil, or investing in renewable energy, unless you have a Corporate Carbon Tax that eliminates the last incentive there is to pollute — that it’s cheaper.

An America that taxes the big polluters will have less pollution, more innovation and more freedom. It’s that simple.

In a Dodd Administration, every penny of Corporate Carbon Tax revenues — over $50 billion annually — will help us solve our energy problems, funding renewable energy research and development and the safe disposal of nuclear waste. Just as importantly, it will help us bring new technologies to market — from lighting to appliances to automobiles — and deploy them as quickly as possible.

More at [Grist]