Report: Wind Energy Reduces GHG Emissions

Environment America has released the new report, “Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution and Saving Water,” detailing how current power generation from wind energy prevents as much global warming pollution as taking 13 million cars off the road each year. With the Production Tax Credit (PTC) quickly reaching its expiration date, Environment America is urging Congress to extend the federal incentives for wind power. In addition to the PTC, they are also encouraging the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC) be renewed as well.

“Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff,” said Courtney Abrams, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment America. “Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”

In light of the results of the report, several U.S. Senators who support wind energy offered comments. U.S. Senator Mark Udall, whose bill to repeal the clause that prevented the U.S. military from pursuing aviation biofuels was passed by the Senate, said, “Extending the wind Production Tax Credit is one of the most straightforward ways we can support clean, Made-in-America energy and American manufacturing jobs. We need the PTC to help create more good-paying jobs here at home, including jobs for our veterans who are transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce. The wind PTC is also a commonsense way to support clean energy and to reduce our carbon emissions. It is critical that Congress extend the PTC ASAP and support clean, renewable wind energy.”

U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, noted, “Wind energy is a win for the economy, a win for the environment, and a win for New Jersey. We will continue fighting in Congress to extend the wind production tax credit and support the kind of energy development that is needed to create jobs, clean up the air our children breathe, and move America to a clean energy future.”

The report sites one advantage of wind is that it saves water. Continue reading

US-Based GCEH Receives RSB Certification

In an earlier post today, I mentioned four major global biofuel sustainability initiatives mentioned in the DoShort, “Sustainable Transport Fuels Business Brief.” One such initiative is the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) who just announced that the first U.S.-based biofuels company, Global Clean Energy Holdings (GCEH), has been awarded the RSB certification.

“We’re happy to welcome GCEH under the RSB umbrella,” said Dr. Michael Keyes, Senior Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialist for SCS Global Services, the company that oversees the program, “GCEH is a model for how biofuels can be produced sustainably and contribute to reducing the carbon intensity of our fuels, while providing concrete contributions to communities and the environment.”

According to SCS, the RSB certification is the most stringent of all consensus standards for sustainable biofuel production. To achieve the designation, a biofuel producer must a high level of compliance with environmental and social criteria that includes, but is not limited to, agricultural sustainability.

GCEH grows jatropha in the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula on marginal land with no irrigation. In order to protect local plant species and wildlife, the company sets aside over 10 percent of its land to create conservation areas and buffer zones. I find this interesting because many in the environmental community believe jatropha is more harmful as a biofuel feedstock than helpful.

“The certification process included a very comprehensive review of all our operations,” added Noah Verleun, Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs Manager at GCEH, “We’re proud to report that we only had to institute minor operational adjustments to our already strong internal processes to qualify for the comprehensive RSB sustainability certification.”

Group: Mil Development of Biofuels Helps Economy

A group of business leaders who purport to “promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity” have a report making the case that biofuels used and developed by the military could help the economy. Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) will release the report during a news conference tomorrow, Nov. 14 at 11 a.m. EST that says the Department of Defense’s Advanced Biofuels Initiatives could generate more than $10 billion in economic activity and more than 14,000 jobs:

Congress is about to take up the National Defense Authorization Act, which in current versions would prohibit the DoD from moving forward with its plans and desires to increase its use of biofuels. Citing national security concerns, the Navy and Air Force want to replace 50 percent of their fuel supplies with non-petroleum biofuels by 2020.

Just as military innovation and leadership transformed our nation’s economy in sectors ranging from aviation to communication to computers, the military’s biofuels expansion could provide a major boost to the economy and job creation, and help transform the nation’s energy, airline and agriculture industries.

E2 leaders, biofuels executives and military advocates will be on the phone call to discuss how military investments in biofuels can pay off for the private sector.

Media members are encouraged to contact Bob Keefe at bkeefe@e2.org or (202) 289-2373; or Patrick Mitchell at pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com or (703) 276-3266 to sign up for the news conference.

Biofuels Larger Part of Energy Mix

World and energy industry leaders are gathering this week in Dubai at the World Energy Forum. The major goal of the forum is to chart a roadmap for a sustainable energy mix. In light of the meeting, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) renewed its call for the adoption of politices that will include biofuels as a significant part of the world’s future energy mix.

The World Energy Forum facilitates a conversation and an exchange of ideas between heads of state, national energy ministers, and energy industry leaders. The goal is to find solutions to the challenges facing a sustainable energy future through technological innovations, research and political will.

“2012 is the United Nations ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ and is the ideal time for World Energy Forum attendees to push for more biofuels friendly policies,” said Bliss Baker, who is the spokesperson for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance. “We cannot continue to rely on our addiction to oil that continues to hamper economic growth, exacerbate climate change and drive up food prices.”

According to the GRFA, biofuels contributed $277.3 billion to the global economy and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in 2010. This year ethanol production is forecasted to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 100 million tonnes globally. Last year the International Energy Agency released, Technology Roadmap – Biofuels for Transport, which stated that biofuels could make up 27% of the worlds transport fuels by 2050, eliminate 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions and not jeopardize food security. Recently the IEA called for biofuels production to double so their CO2 reduction goal could be met by 2020.

“World and energy industry leaders must follow IEA recommendations and adopt policies that ensures global biofuels production doubles in the coming years to meet CO2 reduction goals and reduce our dangerous reliance on crude oil imports,” said Baker.

A world you like. With a climate you like.

Climate change is still front and center in the European Union (EU) with the European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard launching a new communication campaign called “A world you like. With a climate you like.” Supported by more than 70 organizations across Europe, the goal of the campaign is to put practical solutions at the center of the climate change debate. It also hopes to demonstrate to people how climate action can increase welfare while bringing economic benefits to European citizens.

“We have a choice: We can ACT on our knowledge about climate change. Or we can sit idly by and watch as things get worse. Both options come with a price tag. So why not create a world we like, with a climate we like – while we still have time? With this campaign we want to focus the debate on the solutions and find out what is holding us back from applying them,” said Commissioner Hedegaard about the campaign.

A portion of the campaign focuses on innovative climate solutions that reduce CO2 and also improve people’s lives through giving real-world examples of projects that are currently doing just this. The 70 plus organizations and educational institutes participating in the campaign will be able to upload their success stories to the website and Facebook page.

The campaign will run until the end of 2013 and hopes to help the EU achieve its short-term objective of lowering greenhouse gas emission by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency by 20 percent and increase electricity created from renewable energy by 20 percent. The second objective is to achieve the long-term goal of an 80-95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Today, EU emissions are approximately 17 percent below 1990 levels.

Tempe Students Learn with Living Laboratories

You are never too old, or too young to learn about energy. Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) and Chevron Energy Solutions have launched a cross-curricular science, technology, engineering and math (STEM – even the acronym is sciencey) and sustainability program designed to give students more knowledge about energy and environmental issues. Each campus now has a Living Laboratory where students can conduct a myriad of tests of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Each Living Laboratory contains the usual technology, but also contains data collection devices that transmit data to a web-based telemetry system. The labs also integrate with a web-based dashboard, supporting new cross-curricular lesson planning and curriculum development.

“Tempe Union High School District discovered several years ago that studying both sustainability and energy offered an extraordinary opportunity for learning, career preparation and citizenship for our students,” said Greg Wyman, associate superintendent at Tempe Union High School District. “This significant accomplishment for our District offers an extraordinary opportunity for learning and positions our new generation to build a more diverse, energy-efficient and sustainable tomorrow.”

Many of the schools participating in the Living Laboratory program have additional renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that will be woven into the curriculum. For example, one school has a roof-mounted solar thermal collection system, another school has a natural gas powered heat pump system, another has a natural gas powered fuel cell, another has a solar PV system, and one school is in the process of developing an energy storage system showcasing cutting-edge battery technology that will power a greenhouse.

The labs, as well as many of the energy projects were designed, engineered and implemented by Chevron Energy Solutions. “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for environmentally sustainable operations at Tempe Union High School District – one that will allow its students, faculty and the community the opportunity to experience the benefits of combining sustainability and energy science education,” said Chevron Energy Solutions President Jim Davis. “The District has created a model for collaboration that can be replicated by other districts dedicated to investing in transformative, sustainable programs.”

Library Adds Solar for Cleaner Environment

The Port Washington Public Library has added thin film solar cells to its roof’s cap sheet layer to generate solar energy. The only building in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state to generate power this way, the system has the ability to generate an average of 42,000 kWh of electricity per year and but CO2 emissions by more than 2.2 million pounds each year. During a celebration ceremony, Nancy Curtin, Port Washington’s Public Library Director; Garry Schwall, Chief Operating Officer of Winthrop-University Hospital; and Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia gave remarks while entertainment was provided by local singer/guitarist Tom Cavanagh, known to library audiences for his Johnny Cash and George Harrison performances.

The new Energy Education Station in the Library displays the actual energy savings from the system for the public to view. In addition, the green initiatives implemented by the Port Washington Public Library also includes a Recycling Center in the Children’s Room.

“The Library is committed to green initiatives and as a center for lifelong learning wishes to lead by example promoting solar energy and a healthy environment for the Port Washington community,” said Nancy Curtin, Port Washington Public Library Director. “This technology is a sustainable solution and we thank Winthrop University Hospital and CBS EcoMedia for their support.”

As the country struggles with economic difficulties, education has been hard hit with the reduction of teachers in schools and staff at libraries. “With this project, the Library sets an important example: by adopting solar power in our homes and businesses, each one of us can cut our own energy costs and emissions,” said Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia Inc. “Thanks to the generous support of Winthrop-University Hospital, the Library will reduce its carbon footprint and cut its electricity bills, freeing up crucial funds for books, staffing, special programming, and equipment.”

Nextgen Offers Attendees Free Clinics

The nextgen conference is set to take place in UK’s Stoneleigh Park on October 10 and 11, 2012. Unique to the event that showcases emerging renewable energy technologies, attendees can meet with industry experts during a series of drop-in clinics. The clinics are geared for those developing green energy projects or for those already involved in renewable energy production. Visitors will have the ability to learn in more detail about planning, operations and legal frameworks as well as learning the practical steps a business will need to take to achieve its goals.

One-to-one sessions are being offered by Ofgem, the National Farmers Union (NFU), The National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), Agrii, and National Grid.

“At nextgen, the one-to-one clinics are another way for visitors to get the latest policy and technical advice from renewable energy specialists and plug into world leading industry expertise, products and investment opportunities,” commented Lucy Pitt, group marketing manager of Nextgen Media.

In addition to the clinics, event attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from the Environment Agency about environmental regulation, planning policies and development procedures when seeking permits and consents for renewable energy technologies. The clinics are just one aspect of the show that also offers a trade show area with more than 200 exhibitors and conference sessions. Click here to learn more about nextgen and to register.

Wind Blades By Rail

As you travel along major U.S. highways, it is not unusual to see semis traveling in packs of three transporting wind turbine blades. But have you ever seen them blow by on rail? Not yet but this may be a new transportation option going forward. For the first time in Europe, 55-metre long wind blades have been delivered from Germany to Denmark by rail.

“We took an innovative approach to lowering the cost of energy while at the same time reducing impact on the environment,” said Mette Heileskov Bülow, Transportation Chief Specialist at Vestas. The company coordinated the first blade-by-train transport that consisted of nine wind blades manufactured at Vestas’ production facility to the port of Esbjerg, Denmark. The trip took less than 20 hours; by road it would have taken 72 hours, nine trucks and 18 safety cars.

SNCF Geodis and Vestas are designing rail connections between Vestas’ production facilities, research centres, warehouses and erection locations throughout Europe. Vestas said changing the mode of transport for the majority of these onshore wind turbine components in Europe in the near future will reduce transportation cost. Early estimates indicate at least a 15 percent savings.

Pierre Blayau, CEO of SNCF Geodis, added, “This new transportation concept shows the beneficial strategic fit between SNCF Geodis and Vestas. Both our companies are role models for creating sustainable solutions in our respective industries.”

Schools in Japan Complete Solar Projects

Sometimes good things really do come out of something bad.  The Great East Japan Earthquake devastated schools, businesses, homes and lives. But this week, the Japan Reconstruction Fund held a ceremony at Shinchi Elementary School to commemorate the completion of several solar facilities in four public elementary and junior high schools in the town of Shinchi in Soma-gun, Fukushima Prefecture. The solar systems are part of the city’s urban development program.

The solar power projects were funded from grants from Coca-Cola Company and Coco-Cola Educational Foundation. The Fund decided to assist Shinchi Elementary School, Fukuda Elementary School, Komagamine Elementary School, and Shoei Junior High School after evaluating requests to help reinforce disaster management with new solar power facilities and to help educate pupils about clean energy.  The solar power system includes an emergency solar generator with a maximum capacity of 20 kilowatts and storage batteries with a total capacity of up to 16 kilowatts.

During the ceremony, Mayor Norio Kato greeted attendees and delivered opening remarks about Shinchi’s recovery. Tatsuya Natori, Chair of the Shoei Junior High School Student Council, delivered a speech on behalf of all the students.

Natori said, “We were very relieved to hear that the solar system means that we can still use electricity after a disaster. We will always be grateful to the Fund for its kindness, and will study hard so we can play solid roles in local reconstruction.”

While the schools are all educating students about energy and environment, they each have a different focus. For example, Shinchi Elementary School focuses on educating about solar and wind power and Shoei Junior High School plans to teach about nuclear power generation as well as solar generation. However, all of the local schools and the town will collaborate in researching solar power and announcing their findings as part of the town’s overall efforts to acquire knowledge about the environment and energy.