Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday's Alternative Energy Headlines

Tired today and got into work late. Teach me to go out and about all night.

Canada is Coming Clean: First Canadian Global Clean Energy Fund Launched
"Clean energy and energy efficiency is on everyone's radar screens, but more importantly the clean energy sector has matured; it's no longer a nascent industry," said Ian McPherson, President of Criterion Investments. "The clean energy investment universe, as identified by the investment manager has a market cap of $1.4 trillion with capital flows of $70 billion a year right now."

Remember what I said in earlier posts... it is all about the money.

Rep. Davis Calls for ‘Manhattan Project’ on Alternative Energy
The solution, the alternative to military actions such as the invasion of Iraq, he said, was to “launch a Manhattan Project to develop alternative energy in the next 10 years.” The comment was met with loud applause.

“It is in our national interest to do this, because we can’t drill or conserve our way out of this box,” he said. “There are lots of options in the area of alternative energy, and all can play a role,” he added.

Manhattan Project? You want to use alternative energy to blow up our enemies? Chase them down with rays of sunshine? Another case of a Congress Critter who opens his mouth up without educating himself on history?

Nigeria: Minister Advocates Use of Solar Energy
The minister made this remark recently in her office when the managing consultant of the African-Asian investor's management gave a presentation on the benefit of solar energy. She equally said that the solar energy has a pivotal role to play in sourcing for alternative energy supply for Nigeria.

The article goes on to say that it is really expensive and that they need to look locally for good resources. It also mentions that a lab would need to go solar to meet its energy demands. A lab for gamma radiation. OK, how many thought about `The Incredible Hulk'? Raise your hands up.

Medical Discoveries Responds to DOE Biofuel Project Request for Proposals
“We believe the DOE’s Request for Proposals reflects the growing recognition of the need to develop cost-effective feedstock for use in biofuels that does not compete with land and other resources used for food production,” said Richard Palmer, MDI's President and Chief Operating Officer. “The per barrel cost of Jatropha oil is significantly lower than the current cost of crude oil, uses a fraction of the resources, and is considerably cheaper to produce than soybean, rapeseed or corn oil, the primary crops presently used for the production of biofuels. Due to our expertise in plant and soil sciences and our continued development of Jatropha plantations, we believe MDI is uniquely qualified to satisfy DOE requirements, and to become the first United States-based producer of commercial quantities of Jatropha oil.”

Solar start-up lures top energy exec
The company said it had hired Bob Fishman, former executive vice-president in charge of power operations at Calpine, which generates about 3 per cent of the electricity used in the US. Through separately financed projects each capable of producing 100 megawatts or more, Mr Fishman said that Ausra eventually plans to run solar plants generating "tens of thousands of megawatts".

Exciting times, it would be very neat to see this happen. But with all of the solar panels that will be going up around the world in the next two decades, do we risk bringing on global cooling by reflecting so much sunshine (function of what is left of the Arctic). Then will they push for the special, non-reflection ones that are in use here and there?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alternative Energy News Roundup

A few articles of interest this AM.

“One Hurricane Away” From the End of Cheap Oil
In New Orleans yesterday, he told a crowd that the United States is just “one hurricane away from energy scarcity,” according to the Times-Picayune.

OK, nevermind the multi-year reserves we have in case of an emergency. Or the fact that a good portion of our oil comes in from Canada, who has been building more pipelines. The fact that technology is making more oil readily available without necessarily placing a huge debt burden for the companies to do so. For now I will have to label this FUD. We are one big hurricane away from Wall Street Investors sending our oil sky high, no matter what the reality might pan out to be in the long run.

Ohio Proves to be Ideal Location for Advancements in Fuel Cell Industry
Ohio's supportive business environment and significant government initiatives are helping companies research, develop and commercialize cutting-edge technology in the fuel cell industry, according to the Ohio Business Development Coalition (OBDC), the nonprofit organization that markets the state for capital investment. Through the help of programs such as the Third Frontier Program, Ohio is an ideal location for companies dedicated to delivering fuel alternatives to the world.

Yup Ohio saying that Ohio is an ideal place. I would have been more surprised if they had picked another state. ;p

Sony Makes Sugar-Powered Batteries
Sony, one of the world’s largest battery makers, developed a battery that generates electricity from carbohydrates (sugar). The device was developed based on the same power generation principles found in living organisms. Test batteries showed the ability to produce 50 milliwatts - currently the world's highest level of power production for passive-type bio batteries (a system in which reactive substances such as glucose and oxygen are absorbed into electrodes through a process of natural diffusion). By combining 4 battery units, the supplied power is sufficient to operate a typical MP3 player or cell phone.

It is all fine and well until you end up stranded somewhere and then eat your batteries. Then what are you going to listen to?

World's largest solar power plant launched in Spain
The facility, called Planta Solar de Salamanca, consists of 70,000 modules on a site of 36 hectares. It produces 13.8 MW of energy, enough to meet the needs of 5,000 houses. The company plans to gradually increase the output to 25 MW.

It is a fact that solar technology continues to improve. Pretty soon this place will be on the small side of things. Right now any little help the people and the environment can get is a good thing. I would love to see a huge array up in the Artic so that when the "new" islands are occupied, they will have access to renewable energy from the get go.

Ministry of Industry to build 250,000 solar boilers- Iraq
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry announced that the Iraqi Prime Minister has agreed to assign the ministry to manufacture 250,000 solar boilers to use instead of electrical boilers, IDP reported.

You know things are bad when oil rich nations HAVE to embrace things like this. ;p Seriously, they are still having power generation issues and the less that the people have to rely on bad infrastructure, the better.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Whirlwind week continues

Wow is the alternative energy global scene starting to take off! At one time I would be lucky to find 10 good mainstream articles a month and now there are a ton every day.

Conferences, people like to have a conference to attend as it means getting out of work. For today there's news on two of them.

First up is the Friedland Investment Events’ Alternative Energy and Clean Technology Conference in New York City which is tomorrow. Power Efficiency's CFO will be presenting there. The conference is tomorrow, the 19th, and can be found in New York.

The second one is the 31st Annual Fuel Cell Seminar & Exposition in San Antonio, Texas. It runs from October 15th to the 19th and it will have thousands of participants, near 200 companies, and people from all over the world.

Speaking of people from all over the globe...

Oracle said that it is planning to invest in certain Israeli interests as Israel is expected to take the lead in R&D of alternative energy technologies.

Over in Australia, the Qantas airline plans on offsetting 24 hours of emissions by dumping $500K into alternative energy projects and tree planting. They will also offer customers the option to pay a bit more to offset their own carbon footprint.

For those who do not know, nuclear power is big in India, very big. However, not everyone is pleased with this news. MOF, some activists are saying that the current deal with the US threatens India's sovereignty.

Looks like the Dominican Republic will get by with a little help from its friends. The US and Brazil are expected to help out the DR by providing help with the manufacture of biofuels.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Morning Energy

After what hopefully was a very relaxing weekend for everyone, there should be lots of energy going into today. Yes, today, Monday. ;p

Ontario announced that it was giving AGS Automotive $6 million. Part of those funds are going to be used for alternative energy and waste reduction technologies. On the other side of the world, PetroChina said that they were going to put $1.33 billion towards things like coal bed methane, thermal power, and bio-fuels. Considering how badly polluted China is, this is a step in the right direction.

Gulf Ethanol has retained the services of a real estate company in order to find a good piece of land in South West Texas. Also in the announcement was the news that they have also retained a solar energy consultant.

NanoLogix's bioreactor at Welch Foods is now generating electricity. It does so by capturing hydrogen gas that is given off when certain bacteria eat through waste products. It is the first of its kind and may herald a whole new way of looking at alternative energy in the workplace. Right now the generator is powering very little but the results have been so promising that they hope to increase the potential in the near future.

Florida is a huge consumer of energy and yet very little of the energy comes from renewable resources. Lack of a steady wind and an abundance of cloud cover eliminates the two most common forms that people look into when it comes to these types of resources. So what options does Florida have? Benoit Wirz takes a look at this in his article, ` Florida: the Dark Horse in the Alternative Energy Race?'.

Other articles of note for today:
Uranium Resources: A Perfect Play on Nuclear Energy {Investments}
Solar-Powered Rolling on the River

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday News Blurbs

Ethanol campaign prints new book to further promote industry
The Ethanol Fact Book contains statistics and information documenting the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol, Nelson said. According to the book, a typical 40 million gallon per year ethanol plant expands the local economic base by $110 million, generates $19.6 million in household income, increases tax revenue by $1.2 million, and creates nearly 700 permanent jobs.

Giving full credit to N.C. GreenPower
Furthermore, it was the N.C. GreenPower program, negotiated and governed by a diverse group of stakeholders including utilities, consumer advocates and environmental groups, that convinced the utilities in our state to allow renewable energy providers to interconnect with our power grid.

Turbulence over turbines at Virginia's first planned wind farm
Out here in the Allegheny Mountains, snug to the West Virginia line, the first commercial wind farm in Virginia is planned. As many as 22 turbines, each as tall as the Statue of Liberty, would churn out enough clean energy to power more than 12,000 homes a year, according to plans.

If approved by regulators, it would be the highest wind development on the East Coast, atop two mountain ridges more than 4,200 feet in elevation.

EPA: No plans for regulation
But an EPA spokeswoman said the agency's not planning to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electric plants anytime soon, although top administrators are planning new limits on greenhouse gases that come out of vehicle tailpipes.

"At this point, we're still studying the issue," said Kim Olson, spokeswoman for EPA's regional office in Kansas City.

Energy session not guaranteed to bring solution
Special legislative sessions are designed to focus public attention on an issue. The energy issue will have its day in the sun when a special session convenes later this month. Gov. Ed Rendell will deliver an address Sept. 24 to the General Assembly on his proposals to make Pennsylvania less dependent on expensive oil and natural gas supplies.

Drivers aim to save money, Earth
But does going green mean saving the environment or saving a little cash?

Kevin Riddell, JD Power powertrain analyst, said the primary motivation for most people who buy an alternative energy vehicle is improved mileage, with the environmental benefits as a bonus.

"It's more difficult to sell environmental friendliness than to sell fuel economy," he said.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Energy like lightning

The more and more that I read the news from around the world, the more evident it is that alternative energy is catching on everywhere. However, can it continue to keep making ground where it counts? That is to say, is the interest big enough to gather the needed consumer dollars and make it worthwhile to the corporations out there?

One would think that with the high oil prices that posted this week that clean energy would be in the forefront. However, Nick Perry noted that this is not necessarily the case in his recent post:
As recently as 2 weeks ago I was discussing the appeal of the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Fund (PBW), so I am disappointed to see the group post a loss this week. With the headlines abuzz about a new high in oil, I would have thought the alternative energy area would be "re-energized," but clearly that wasn't the case.

But is this just an unusual blip or does it foretell more hard times for alternative energy companies?

That is not to say that there is not an economic benefit within the field. Alternative energy continues to dominate politics and nothing is more political than cold, hard cash. Matter of fact, George Avalos wrote in his article, `Bay Area stands to benefit from green-tech boom' that the East Bay is poised on raking in a lot of cash.
Several East Bay communities could be suitable for green-tech manufacturing, at least to the extent of a pilot factory or production of prototype devices, machines, or fuels, he said. Among them: Richmond, Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, Oakley, Dublin and Livermore. If the field of activity is extended, California could provide all of the facilities needed for such projects from start to finish.

Speaking of politics, Reuters is carrying an article about the interest that the Italian government has in alternative energy. Of course it is especially a big issue there since nuclear power is banned within the country, making that part of the topic very touchy among the people and politicians. However, with supplies becoming tight and with Italy's huge dependence on importing for their energy need, it is just a matter of time before they have to do something. Some say the time has already come.
Last week, the country's biggest power producer Enel said there could be blackouts this year because Italy did not have the infrastructure for alternative supplies -- a push for reluctant regional administrations to open up to building of gas terminals.

Other news to note:
Nuclear Power is Not the Answer
Instead, unless the House of Representatives quashes the Senate giveaway, the national security risks inherent an atomic power, complete with growing transportation on the rails and highways of radioactive wastes, will multiply. So make your Representative in the House especially, Cong. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), listen to your arguments.

My opinion: people refuse to believe that nuclear power generation has evolved since they watched the movie, "The China Syndrome".

Ethiopia: U.S. Oil Company to Enter Fuel Distribution Market
The company will be engaged in fuel and lubricant distributions in Ethiopia, while it particularly aims at supplying the whole market with its own products, according to sources.

My opinion: Oil and its byproducts will continue to have huge importance in our daily lives, especially in poorer countries, for the next century.

SUNY: Bill McKibben, First Global Warming Author, to Speak Here Sept. 25
Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist whose first book, The End of Nature (1989), raised the alarm about global climate change, will speak on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at SUNY Cortland.
McKibben, who frequently writes about global warming, alternative energy and the risks associated with human genetic engineering, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Old Main Brown Auditorium. The lecture opens the College's yearlong series on the theme of "Earthly Matters," organized by the College's Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Extinction, energy, and politics

The week started off on a rather down note when we were told that almost 200 more species were threatened with extinction. Climate change, disease, and war seem to be the biggest enablers of this. Perhaps with time we can reverse this, but how much longer until that time runs out?

Alternative energy and the environment are really starting to dominate politics, both in the local and federal arenas in the United States. Virginia's governor, Tim Kaine, recently put out his proposal to cut greenhouse emissions by 30% before 2025. His proposal is basically centered around the citizens and government using less energy by using available energy more efficiently. To set the pace the state purchased 27,000 CFLs. CFLs are pretty good but I have found that some of the cheaper ones burn out pretty quickly. Take your time, stick with namebrands, and do not just go for the cheapest guy on the block. I have reduced my bill from an average of $135 per month to $100 per month just by introducing these bulbs to my home.

Speaking of conservation, retired professor Richard Hill recently stated that conservation is the way for humans to have a more balanced (and cleaner) relationship with nature. Part of his plan calls for the doubling of the amount of nuclear power plants in the US and also requiring a minimum standard of 30 mpg for passenger cars.

Meanwhile the feds are giving Southern Co. a hard time over a cooling valve that was not up to snuff in their Alabama nuclear plant. Not enough to cause a meltdown but it might have, just maybe, if things went just wrong enough, endanger the public in some form or fashion. Southern is rather pissed due to the fact that the black eye comes during a time when they are trying to expand their operations in other parts of the country.

In an effort to cut greenhouse emissions Vermont modeled a law on vehicles after the one in use in California. Of course it got dragged into court by the automakers. Part of the problem, they said, was that the states were usurping federal authority. The judge did not buy it and ruled in favor of the law.

Speaking of those evil and vile automakers. You know the ones who are so dead set against alternative energy? General Motors announced that is plans on expanding its use of solar power. It will be the largest solar plant in the US and produce 1.3 million killowatt hours of electricity every year. Wow! Is that enough to travel Back to the Future?

Taking a look northward, Wisconsin is once again expanding its reach into alternative fuels. I had been up in that state a couple of years ago and it was the first time that I saw an E-85 gas pump anywhere. Right now the city of Evansville wants to build a soy crush plant. The cooperative in the area stated that they would be willing to work with the state in financing the facility.

Why be so keen on clean electricity? Well it is not just better for the trees, birds, and plants but also for us, the humans. Dirty the environment and you cause all sorts of the health issues. Right now "dirty energy" threatens the health of over 2 billion people and it is not just the usual suspects. Apprently un or poorly ventilated indoor cook fires are quite a concern.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alternative Energy News

Oil is up, supplies are down (but still up compared to last year), and Americans are getting hit so hard in the wallet that they actually might start to lose weight. The roller coaster ride in the energy field is far from over, even if the oil bubble popped tomorrow and dropped the price down to $55/barrel. Alternative energy is "IN" and people from all over are trying to get in on the action.

The NY Times article, `‘Feel Good’ vs. ‘Do Good’ on Climate' takes a skeptic's view on the whole global warming debate. Bringing in Dr. Bjorn Lomborg and also taking a look at an area already hit with rising water levels and increase in temperatures, New York. Can we really fight the warming more efficiently by painting the roof tops and roads white? It would be an interesting experiment to say the least.

Where's there is a demand, there is money. It is one of the laws of the universe. The amount of money to be made and thrown at any given project is equal to 2.3 times the amount of good press that doing so would generate, whether it does anything or not. Well, that is my theory anyway. Alternative energy is hot right now. Governors are touring ethanol plants to appear to be sensitive to issues rather than really being sensitive to getting enough good press so that the next election is easier.

On the money side, big companies like Citi (was Citigroup) are getting involved. In their case their involvement is to the tune of $50 billion dollars US (over the next decade) into green house gas reductions. That's a lot of money going into the market. Of course things like that is leading NYMEX to launch new alternative energy equity index futures even though some professionals are starting to wonder if there is a bubble here and whether it is going to pop on us (hate it when that happens, the gum gets stuck to your nose and sometimes your hair, it is a mess).

The real question though, and one without a clear answer, is which technology will lead us to renewable nirvana?

The big question beyond that though is will the solution be able to save the polar bear?

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OT: Please take action now

I know that I have not been around in awhile. I have been busy working hard and making ends meet. In whatever spare time I have had, I have been trying to make a difference. You see every year there are many living in the US who are openly discriminated against. They have lost jobs, housing, and access to the most basic of services that the rest of the country enjoys. Lost because they happen to be or perceived to be a part of the LGBT community.

I am asking for everyone to stand up and let Congress know that all citizens should have equal protection under the law. Ask them to support ENDA. Do not fall victim to the lies that the other side have been spreading. There are First Amendment protections for those who wish to continue along with their faith view of choice, no matter how vulgar and dangerous it comes across to so many.

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