Current CO2

Atmospheric CO2 data

350 parts per million CO2 is the safe limit for humanity.

Learn more about 350 – what it means, where it came from, and how to get back there.

Get Email Updates!

Take the Pledge!

April 2014 Green Energy Times Online

Read the articles:  Table of Contents

April 20 Green Energy News

Opinion:

  • “Onsite Generation: Can Utilities Rethink Their Business Proposition?” Can utilities adapt to emerging innovations that allow customers to “bypass” their services? Or, will power companies become the modern-day dinosaur? [Forbes]

World:

  • The South Korean Finance Ministry says it plans to recommend easing unnecessary rules to fuel innovation and investment in technologies that can allow growth in such areas as wind, solar and geothermal power generation. [GlobalPost]
  • The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide technical assistance to Pakistan to develop greenhouse gases reduction technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change as part of implementing the national policy on climate change. [DAWN.com]
  • Turkish Officials are examining plans to build the country’s first ecological city, with buildings heated by burning biogas produced from pistachio shells. The pistachio-heated city would encompass 3,200 hectares, and house 200,000 people. [South China Morning Post]
  • A UK Government inspector ordered Wiltshire Council to delete its wind farms policy from the Core Strategy. The council had planned to impose a minimum distance between housing and new wind developments, essentially preventing any from being built in the county. [The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald]

US:

  • Natural variability alone cannot explain the extreme weather pattern that has driven both the record-setting California drought and the cooler weather seen in the Midwest and East this winter, a major new study finds. [Energy Collective]
  • A report issued by ClimateCentral, an organization which studies changing weather trends, and tries to understand and explain their causes, says an increase in severe weather has led to a doubling of major power outages across the country in the past decade. [Energy Collective]
  • The US DOE has proposed a minimum energy efficiency standards for linear fluorescent light bulbs, the tube lamps that are located in virtually every office, hospital, school and airport in the country. [Energy Collective]
  • The Koch brothers, Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. Campaigns have struck Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona and are starting elsewhere. [Los Angeles Times]
  • More than 70% of Ohioans support the state’s renewable-energy requirements, according to a poll paid for by a clean-energy business group. The poll results were released this week as the Ohio Senate is considering a proposal that would rewrite the requirements. [Norwalk Reflector]
  • The California Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public comment on the proposed Tylerhorse Wind Project, a 60-MW facility planned for 1,200 acres in Kern Country. Since 2009, the BLM has approved nearly 14,000 MW of renewable energy capacity. [Sierra Sun Times]

April 19 Green Energy News

Opinion:

  • “An In-Depth Look at the Future of American Energy and How We Get There” The U.S. is poised to spend around $2 trillion over the next two decades replacing our outdated electric infrastructure. We must make sure that investment is in clean energy. [Environmental Defense Fund]

Science and Technology:

  • Sandpoint, Idaho is on track to be the first to replace a traditional road surface with super-strong, textured glass panels that harness solar power. Locally developed 1-inch-thick panels will melt snow and ice, power LED lights embedded in the roadway and generate electricity. [The Spokesman Review]

World:

  • Analysts at French-based energy components company Schneider Electric have concluded that extending or expanding Australia’s renewable energy target would lead to lower electricity prices, lower carbon emissions and increased competition. [CleanTechnica]
  • Sharp Corp. said it will build a large 2.2-MW solar power plant in a town within an evacuation advisory area around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Sharp plans to begin construction in December, with operations to start the following June. [The Japan Times]

US:

  • According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office (FERC), 92.1% of new electricity generation capacity in the US in January through March of 2014 came from renewable energy sources. [Treehugger]
  • Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar. However, that four-minute mark is not good enough for the Obama Administration, which just used the Solar Summit to launch a set of initiatives to ramp up the pace of development even faster. [CleanTechnica]
  • A federal judge ruled Friday that part of a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional because it attempts to control business that takes place outside state borders — and she barred Minnesota officials from enforcing it. [Bismarck Tribune]
  • The Energy Department announced $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses. The funding will help with the SunShot Initiative goal to make solar energy fully cost-competitive. [Today's Energy Solutions]
  • Four new wind farms are poised for development in Utah after Rocky Mountain Power inked agreements with the companies to buy the power over 20 years. The farms, once in action, will have the capacity to produce 300 MW, enough to power 93,600 homes. [Deseret News]
  • According to a new analysis by SNL Financial, more than half of all new energy generation infrastructure planned for the next few years is renewable energy, with renewable power plants replacing retiring coal. [Smithsonian]

April 18 Green Energy News

Opinion:

  • “An onshore wind cap makes no sense” The UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, says Liberal Democrats in the UK Government will not accept a cap on onshore wind. The Coalition Government is not changing tack on onshore wind or renewables. [Liberal Democrat Voice]

Business and Economics:

  • Tackling climate change is the only way to grow the economy in the 21st century, according to Unilever CEO Paul Polman. He says businesses are starting to understand climate risks, but governments are failing to respond. [RTCC.org]

World:

  • Ukraine is seeking U.S. investment in its biomass, wind and solar power industries. The idea is to use renewable energy to curb its reliance on fuel imports from Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region last month and has troops massed on the border. [Bloomberg]
  • Residents living near the UK’s Delabole wind farm have received a £50 ‘windfall’ payment after the turbines at the site performed better than expected. In 2013, 15% of the UK’s energy needs were met through renewables with wind power accounting for 50% of this. [Blue & Green Tomorrow]
  • E.ON and Unipart have embarked on a UK biomass heating project. The arrangement calls for E.ON to install, operate and maintain a new 995 kW biomass boiler at Unipart’s head offices in Oxford. [Renewable Energy Focus]
  • British Airways has announced plans to power its flights using sustainable jet fuel made from landfill waste — a move it says will be equal to taking 150,000 cars off the road. The company says it’s committed to buying 50,000 tonnes of the sustainable jet fuel per year. [The Malay Mail Online]
  • For the first time, small renewable energy generators in Ireland will be able to sell electricity on the Single Electricity Market, the wholesale electricity market across the whole island of Ireland. All sizes of turbines are welcome.[Siliconrepublic.com]
  • Greenpeace has just put out an optimistic new report suggesting that China’s decade-long coal boom might soon come to a close, due to slowing economic growth and new crackdowns on air pollution. Citigroup and others have been making similar predictions of late. [Vox]

US:

  • More than two years after closing the last such loan guarantee, the US DOE announced on Wednesday that it intends to make up to $4 billion available “for innovative US renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.” [National Geographic]
  • Raleigh, North Carolina ranks 15th in the country for solar projects installed between 25 and 50 watts per person, per capita, according to a new study released on Thursday by the Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center.[Triangle Business Journal]
  • The White House honored 10 local heroes as “Champions of Change” for their efforts to promote and expand solar deployment in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. One was Henry Red Cloud, founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises. [Indian Country Today Media Network]
  • Colleges across America are trying their hand at saving the planet. And if the Princeton Review’s annual listing of the country’s greenest schools is any indication, there are a handful that probably have really low utility bills.[NEWS.GNOM.ES]
  • A small county in Northern California has become the first county government in the state to become grid energy positive. Yolo County (population 200,000), just west of Sacramento County, now produces 152 percent more energy from solar panels than it uses. [Christian Science Monitor]
  • Over the past months, there has been a bit of a selling spree of Entergy stock. But this sell-off isn’t coming from just anybody: these sales are by corporate top executives. Between December and early April, five Entergy execs sold off large portions of their Entergy stock. [GreenWorld]

April 17 Green Energy News

Opinion:

  • “No, the IPCC climate report doesn’t call for a fracking boom” Interpretations of the report saying it endorses fracking, urging a “dash for gas” as a bridge fuel to put us on a path to a more renewable energy future are exaggerated, lack context, and are just plain wrong. [Grist]

Science and Technology:

  • Newly built wind and solar with natural-gas as a backup can make power a fifth cheaper than nuclear backed by gas, the study by consultant Prognos AG shows. It says excluding the backup generation, renewables produce power 50% cheaper than nuclear. [Moneyweb.co.za]
  • The IPCC report is positive on renewables’ ability to deal with carbon emissions. It addresses nuclear power as a possible solution, but also underscores considerable barriers for it. The combination illustrates the conclusion that nuclear is largely irrelevant. [Scoop.co.nz]

World:

  • When the wind blows and the sun shines in Germany, electricity prices in the country plummet. Natural gas peaker plants are not needed, as the peaks are erased and they cannot compete with renewables. But the grid still needs balancing resources like demand response. [Energy Collective]
  • Germany’s RWE expects profits to stabilise beyond 2014, albeit at a lower level. It will target customer-friendly products to offset a decline in traditional power generation. Renewable power and lower demand has made many of its fossil fuel plants redundant. [Business Spectator]
  • Australian households are driving the country towards a clean energy future by themselves, spending billions on generating their own electricity and providing nearly two-thirds of all investment in renewables in Australia in 2013, and virtually all of it in 2014. [RenewEconomy]
  • Turbines located in a sea-wall stretching across a Bristol Channel bay could provide power to over half a million homes while combating coastal erosion, preventing floods and regenerating the local economy, according to the company behind the idea. [Western Morning News]
  • The Australian Capitol Territory government is set to announce the next stage of its introduction of large clean energy projects with a reverse auction for 200 MW of wind-generated electricity. The goal is to have 90% renewable sources by 2020. [The Canberra Times]
  • GE’s Digital Energy is helping Scottish Power integrate renewable energy onto power grid. GE will provide series compensation capabilities to three facilities in southern Scotland, helping the utility meet and mitigate today’s highly complex and technical grid challenges. [PennEnergy]

US:

  • President Obama will challenge companies Thursday to expand their use of solar power, part of his ongoing effort to leverage the power of his office to achieve goals that have been stymied by Congress. [Washington Post]
  • Private sector interest may be helping drive the wind sector forward. IKEA says the Hoopeston Wind facility outside of Chicago will provide 165% of the electricity needed for its entire US retail and distribution footprint. [OilPrice.com]
  • For the tenth consecutive year, Xcel Energy has been named the country’s top wind energy provider. As of 2013, Xcel Energy had 5,080 MW of wind energy on its systems, enough wind power to meet the energy needs of about 2.5 million homes. [AltEnergyMag]
  • Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has entered into a power purchase agreement with an affiliate of juwi solar Inc. to develop, design and construct the 10.0-megawatt (MW) Rockfish Solar facility on 80 acres in Charles County, Maryland. [Southern Maryland News Net]

April 16 Green Energy News

Opinion:

  • “Oil Limits and Climate Change: How They Fit Together” The likely effect of oil limits–one way or the other–is to bring down the economy, and because of this bring an end to pretty much all carbon emissions very quickly. There are several ways this could happen. [Energy Collective]
  • “Keystone report can’t have it both ways” The Keystone XL Pipeline report contains more than enough information for Secretary of State John Kerry — a respected environmental champion — to conclude that the pipeline is not in the national interest. [CNN]

Science and Technology:

  • The IPCC report says solar has the largest technical feasibility in mitigating harmful emissions from electricity production “by a large magnitude”, considering such issues as intermittency, subsidies and economic competitiveness, water use, and land availability. [PV-Tech]
  • Researchers at Loughborough University’s Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST) have developed a multi-layer anti-reflection coating for glass surfaces that can reduce glare from solar panels and boost their efficiency. [Energy Matters]

World:

  • First quarter clean energy investment rose 9% from last year on surging demand for rooftop solar panels. New investment in renewable power and energy efficiency rose to $47.7 billion, up from $43.6 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. [Bloomberg]
  • Network operators in at least two Australian states are likely to ditch parts of their extensive poles and wire networks in regional areas as they realise that the costs of delivering centralised generation to remote areas is no longer economically feasible. [CleanTechnica]
  • In 2013, China witnessed yet another year of impressive wind energy capacity addition. While the total capacity added was off the peak levels seen a couple of years ago, the Asian giant still managed to add 45% of all the wind energy capacity added in 2013. [CleanTechnica]
  • Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce major economic benefits – equivalent to an estimated $45 billion by 2030 – as well as greater food security, a cleaner environment and higher productivity of natural resources. [Environmental Expert]
  • Sony will form a joint venture with Hydro-Quebec to research and develop a large-scale energy storage system combining their know-how in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The new company, to be based in Varenne, Quebec, will be formed in June. [Wall Street Journal]
  • Tata Power, one of India’s largest private power companies, plans to increase its renewable energy capacity by about 71% to cut carbon emissions and reduce risks from fluctuating fuel prices. The utility is adding 646.7 MW of renewable energy capacity. [Economic Times]

 

US:

  • ISO New England reported today that the volatile natural gas market in this region pushed wholesale electric prices up by 55% last year. We’re already seeing some of this at the retail level, but the real impact will likely be seen in our monthly bills next winter. [Boston Business Journal]
  • A new study conducted by the SUN DAY campaign, projects that electricity generation from renewable sources will reach 16% of the total by 2018. This is 22 years sooner than that predicted by US Energy Information Administration. [Justmeans]
  • California’s recent revisions to Title 24 put in place ambitious performance goals: all new residential buildings must be Zero Net Energy by 2020, and commercial buildings by 2030. This is likely to have ripple effects through the whole nation’s construction industry. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US Army announced plans on Monday to begin construction on the Department of Defense’s largest solar array on a military installation. Groundbreaking for the 20-megawatt project will take place on April 25, with operations slated to begin late this year. [ThinkProgress]
  • US greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10% from 2005 to 2012, more than halfway toward the U.S.’s 2020 target pledged at United Nations climate talks, according to the latest national emissions inventory. [Scientific American]

 

The Cost of Gold

Born and raised in Shaftsbury, Vermont, Andrew K. Newell is a member of the U.S. Ski Team 2014.

Born and raised in Shaftsbury, Vermont, Andrew K. Newell is a member of the U.S. Ski Team 2014.

By Andrew K. Newell

Having competed in three Olympic Games I’ve been a part of the winter sports community for quite some time. From Torino, Italy to Sochi, Russia I’ve experienced different venues over the years, seasons with high snow pack and others with none, but above all I’ve seen change both in climate and in attitude. This has caused me to question the extreme measures host nations and our world leaders are willing to go to not only to capitalize on the Olympics but, more important, turn a blind eye to our changing climate.

I took my first trip to Sochi a year and a half before the Games were set to begin and what I saw in the outlying mountains were beautiful snow covered peaks in one of Russia’s largest national parks. Fast-forward 16 months and several billion dollars later and we were left with hastily built resort towns, huge unfinished hotels, and thousands of acres of clear-cut forest and polluted waterways.

Upon arrival at the Olympics we were bussed to one of the six gondolas to access the nordic and biathlon stadiums. Of course everyone was giddy with nerves and excitement over the upcoming competitions, but as we crept higher up the 8,000-foot peak to where the Endurance Village was located we could get a true vision of the destruction below.

A bad snow year had left the valley floor brown and muddy, highlighting all the construction debris. Looking across to the mountainside where the alpine and snowboarding events were to take place we saw massive swaths of hillside clear cut to accommodate the new trails and lift towers of a future alpine resort. All of this was created by Putin to capitalize on the Olympics and to create what he envisioned as Russia’s next big tourist destination,.But at what cost?

I don’t think we can entirely blame Russia or Putin for trying to boost a nation’s economy but the underlying theme is that we can expect more from our world leaders and the individuals accountable for these decisions. Why was this untouched land chosen for the Games? Why can’t our world leaders work together to find methods for looking past the dollar (or ruble) signs and taking into account the environment?

It’s because of this, and the continued lack of common sense, that decisions from our governments that led me to start the organization Athletes for Action and partner with Protect Our Winters this season, and begin urgently voicing the need for change. Before the Games I collected signatures from Olympic competitors urging world leaders to recognizes climate change and work together toward solutions. Through a letter we are asking nations to come together at the UN Framework Convention in Paris 2015 and partner on concrete legislation to help fight climate change.

So why will world leaders care what Olympic athletes think? I’m not sure I can answer that question but as someone who spends each and every day training outside for skiing I’ve seen the negative effects of climate change over the years, and I’m worried for what the future might hold. I feel as though it is my responsibility, along with all other outdoor enthusiasts who witness these changes, to voice our concerns and put pressure on our leaders. Weekend warrior or professional athlete, winter or summer, we can all work together to raise awareness and, most important, expect more climate-friendly decisions and legislation from our government officials.

Andrew Newell was born in Bennington, Vermont and raised in Shaftsbury. While he started skiing at a very young age, it was at Stratton Mountain School, that he learned what it would take to ski at an international level. His five years at SMS formed a special bond and pride that goes along with being a Vermont cross-country skier.

That five-year experience led Newell to set his sights on World Cup and World Championship competitions, working with US Development Coach Chris Grover and the rest of the US Ski Team, in Park City Utah. He took a12th place finish in the 2005 World Championships in Obertsdorf, Germany, that earned him a spot on the U.S. National Ski Team and eventually a spot on the 2006 US Olympic Team.

Andy still splits his time between Southern Vermont and Park City, and has come a long way — with top-five finishes at World Championship as well as World Cup podiums.

He has been part of the US Ski team for 10 years and has competed in three Olympics. Follow Andy online at www.andrewnewell.com.

This Vermont native is one of our supporters, and remarked, “You do some great work with Green Energy Times and I’d be happy to contribute.” This article is his contribution.

Earth Day and Spring Cleaning

By Deborah DeMoulpied

While Earth Day has evolved into a carbon-alert-climate-change moment, it originally started from the idea that it was time to “clean up” our environment. Back in the 70s it was “Keep America Beautiful,” “Every Litter Bit Hurts,” the “Clean Air and Clean Water Act,” and trying to keep rivers from catching on fire. And while humans are now better trained than to throw their garbage out the car window, the insidious minute particles of garbage coming out of our smoke stacks and tailpipes have created an atmosphere humans have never known. It is time to clean it all up.

That’s “cleaning” in the large metaphorical sense. But what about cleaning in the literal sense? Like tiles, sinks and ourselves? All cleaning is good, right? Well that depends.

Unless you are only using water, most cleaning involves a collecting product (cloth or sponge) and something liquid or sticky. Whichever we use, it is either washed away or thrown way or both. The point is, it has an impact on our environment to varying degrees and the idea is to make the least impact.

Lowering that impact comes down to knowing what it is you are using, and that means knowing the ingredients. While our country does not mandate listing ingredients on personal care and cleaning products, consumers have demanded it enough so that most companies comply with an ingredients list that, most of the time, you can read. But know that there could still be ingredients that are not listed.

On a recent trip to New Zealand and Australia, I was very surprised to see that many of the same personal care products from companies I am familiar with do not have ingredients lists. Maybe consumers there don’t squeak loudly enough, or the additional chemical bans in those countries give consumers more confidence. Either way, I was very surprised and grateful knowing that I could go back home and spend hours in the isles deciphering labels.

Since it is the season for spring cleaning, here are some basic green tips.

1 – Open the windows. Get a fresh air exchange after being bottled up all winter.

2 – White vinegar, baking soda and lemons will clean 95% of your projects. The Internet is loaded with advice; it’s not rocket science.

3 – Otherwise, read the ingredients. Choose organic when you can, and ingredients that are simple and understandable. Less is more.

4 – Ditch the paper towels or other disposables – Reuse old cloths or t-shirts.

5 – Use a HEPA filter on your vacuum or use a central vac.

6 – Use the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Over 2,000 products are reviewed. The website includes a “Hall of Shame” you might find interesting!

While these are small things you as an individual can do please remember the big picture. Climate change is upon us in a big way. Australia just finished their warmest year on record, shattering previous years. New Zealand finished their second warmest. On our trip we saw plenty of glaciers that we were told would be gone in a matter of decades. The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change has spoken. It is really down to “now or never.” It’s one planet under all of us. If we don’t clean it up, who will?

Happy Earth Day.

Deborah DeMoulpied is owner and founder of Bona Fide Green Goods, an earth-friendly department store in Concord, NH. Bonafidegreengoods.com won the Webby Awards Green Honoree in 2011. Deborah is also faculty of the Anticancer Lifestyle Program, teaching patients about environmental toxins and healthful solutions.

Milk Paint – Perfect for the Nursery!

photo 5-1By Erin A. Winter, MD

In a nesting fit during my first pregnancy this past fall, I was searching for paint for the nursery and was referred to milk paint for its no-chemical benefits.

I had never heard of milk paint before, but some quick research showed it to: (1) be easy; (2) no more expensive then normal paint; (3) healthful for use in pregnancy and around infants and children; (4) offer LOTS of colors to mix or play around with; and (5) be durable.

SO I contacted the very nice and helpful people at milkpaint.com and was able to try out the paint in three colors that I mixed into two custom colors for my nursery.

photo 4-1My mother came to help and we started our ‘adventures in painting the nursery with milk paint!’. We picked a warm ivory color for one wall (a standard color that required no special blending), a silvery gray-lavender for another wall and a darker gray for a smaller accent wall that has mostly closet doors on it (both requiring mixing two or three paints together). The process is relatively straightforward but you will want a really good paint mixer since the paint needs to be mixed well to get a uniform color. We also found that letting it sit a bit before starting to paint helps with the texture and thickness. We used higher quality rollers and brushes but I’m not sure they were necessary. The darker colors definitely needed two coats and a few touchups in places (we painted over white walls without any primer).

The end ‘feel’ is very organic and a nice matte finish. Perfect for the nursery! AND I wasn’t  concerned when my cat wandered in to check things out while we were painting, as there were no fumes or chemicals to be concerned about.

Overall, the painting process was more involved than just picking a color and buying paint at the store, but it didn’t take too long. Once we got the hang of the mixing process. There is a great online ‘book’ of different colors and how to mix them as well. A little extra time but worth it for a healthful product!

Awnings Against Air Conditioning

By G.E.T. Staff

In the old days, even before electric fans, awnings provided a measure of relief from the heat of a summer day. In those days, an awning and an open window for some ventilation was about the best a person could do to keep cool during the heat of the summer. Like many things we had in the past, they had advantages we seem to have forgotten.

Awnings help keep a house in Edmonton, Alberta cooler. Photo credit: striatic / hobvias sudoneighm

Awnings help keep a house in Edmonton, Alberta cooler. Photo credit: striatic / hobvias sudoneighm

Awnings’ low-tech approach functions quite well, as an alternative to air conditioning for keeping a house cool.

The temperature under an awning can easily be 20° F lower than the temperature in the full sun. That means that if the sun is shining brightly through a window, the interior of the room can heat up very fast compared with what it would with awnings. They reduce the cost of running the air conditioning, even making their use unnecessary on many days. That, in turn, reduces both our expenses and our carbon emissions.

Apart from the fact that they save us money, make us more comfortable, and help save the planet, all at the same time, awnings have more to recommend them. In addition to blocking the heat of the sun, they also block the UV light, and this is important. While we do need the health benefits of the vitamin D that we receive from the sun, too much exposure to sun can lead to skin cancer. Awnings offer a health solution, which is better than chemicals on our skin that have their own side effects,

In addition, sunlight fades many colors used in fabrics, so when a sofa is close to a window, the parts that get a lot of sun can fade. This could have been prevented with a little thought to awnings or shades.

Today’s awnings come in modern designs, colors, shapes and sizes, which can provide a wonderful way to decorate many buildings. We cannot say that for air conditioners.