Monday, February 12, 2007

IDT Energy Expands

IDT Energy has joined the consumerist world and expanded into the retail products and services.
Check out their new e-store at Particularly, I was impressed by the eco-friendly and eco-responsible products and services. Take, for example the batteries at:

Now, others offer it, but none at the same low price including freight.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Green Energy News!

This is fresh from the newspress. Woodchips! Fantastic!
But, how about looking at the reseller you are using? Are they buying
renewable or green energy? Or are they only killing fossil fuels?
And, what about home products? Have you automated and replaced
at lot of your home products?

New York State has deregulated its Energy. Who are you buying your energy from?
Check out -- I can even choose to buy ONLY green.
And I found a great deal on a thermostat at:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Written by Bruce Mulliken


Consider two ways to mitigate global warming. One, come up with a long term,
100-year-perhaps plan with no real goals, no specifics, and hope that others
use it as a guide for the future. Or two, get on the phone and convince
people, companies and organizations to find ways to cut greenhouse gas
emissions today.

This week the Bush Administration published its long-term plan to tackle
climate change. It’s dubbed the Climate Change Technology Program Strategic
Plan. It’s 244 pages and it’s filled with ideas for the
future: A hydrogen economy. Carbon sequestration. A reduction of non-carbon
dioxide greenhouse gases. Better monitoring and measurement of greenhouse
gases. More research and development of clean technologies. Public/private
partnerships to implement technologies. Voluntary action. Nothing much
different than Bush has been saying for five or six years.

The Energy Department took four years to write the Plan. The next
administration may scrap it and come up with a new one.

(It is not known if this is the final action President Bush will take on
climate change. He may have something else up his sleeve.)

Former President Bill Clinton stepped up the podium this week to announce
the results of his organization’s labors to tackle climate change. The
results? Companies and organizations willing to put time, effort and money
into the problem. If they don’t do it or start to do what they’ve pledged
they won’t go to jail, but likely will get an angry phone call from Bill.

The most newsworthy pledge to the Clinton Global Initiative (which covers
more than climate change) was for $3 billion spread out over ten years from
Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin brand name. Virgin Fuels, as it is now
known, is the biofuels division for research, development and
commercialization of bio-transportation fuels. Appropriately the money will
come from 100 percent of the profits from his transportation divisions such
as Virgin Atlantic Airways.

But there were a total of 40 commitments so far, not just Branson’s. Here
are four of them:

--- Urban-Climate & Energy Inc. will undertake research and
design-development of its Heat Harvester technology. Heat Harvest is
designed to capture and remove waste heat from air-conditioning systems.
Waste heat will be transformed into zero-emission renewable energy, and
energy equivalent (electricity and hot water).

--- Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) will install solar water pumping and
small-scale irrigation systems in the Kalalé District of Benin to grow
vegetables and other crops during the dry season. SELF will also help
farming families by expanding solar electrification for schools, clinics,
streetlights, pumps for clean water, and micro-enterprise and communication

--- Environmental Defense will develop a $6 million Carbon Fund to engage
farmers and forest owners to emit fewer greenhouse gases while taking more
out of the atmosphere. This pilot fund will emulate a cap-and-trade market
for five to eight demonstration projects.

--- Global Green USA will apply green building design criteria, and where
possible net zero energy and climate neutral strategies, to insure all
school construction and renovation in New Orleans and Louisiana wrecked by
Hurricane Katrina are built green.

(The remainder are at the website.)

And which is the better approach? At least one climate scientist James
Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has said that we
have ten years to get greenhouse gases under control. (We don’t have a
hundred years.)

For the Bush Administration’s plan visit the US Climate Change Technology
Program at, for the Clinton Global
Initiative visit


This week the state of California sued the six largest automakers in the
United States (and thus selling the most vehicles in California) over the
impacts - now and future - of global warming in the state. Only Honda has
responded saying the US government should increase fuel economy standards as
a way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. The states
shouldn’t be allowed to do this on their own.

(Not surprisingly, Honda (as well as Toyota and perhaps Nissan) would find
it easy to meet any increase in fuel economy increases the federal
government might throw at them. Honda (and the others) already have plenty
of cars that could meet higher standards today as well as new technologies
under development and near commercialization that could meet very stringent
fuel economy standards, perhaps well above 40 miles per gallon, if it came
to that.)

Yet while the majors continue to find ways to beat back lawsuits and
government mandates, more and more technological opportunities are coming
forward that can offer significantly better fuel economy and much lower
greenhouse gas emissions.

(Eventually the state of California might come to the obvious
conclusion: If the major automakers won’t build the low-emission cars that
we want we’ll just have to build them ourselves.

Already there are a handful of fledgling, low-volume green car companies in
the state that could be expanded with the state’s help. The heck with
Detroit they could say.)

One of the technologies for greener vehicles is plug-in hybrid electric
vehicles (PHEVs) which coincidentally seem to have their roots in

But are plug-in hybrids the final answer for greener vehicles?

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has taken a
look at and released an in-depth study of the technology: Plug-In
Hybrids: An Environmental and Economic Outlook.

First, some notes on the study.

--- ACEEE considers PHEVs as an evolution of current hybrids, thus compares
PHEVs with current hybrids and not with conventional cars.

--- There are no PHEVs commercially available, only some retrofitted cars
and trucks, so ACEEE can’t compare real PHEVs against real conventional

--- ACEEE also concludes that hybrids and PHEVs will continue to be mostly
variations of conventional cars and trucks, not purpose-built designs.
(Toyota’s second generation Prius owes its success to its purpose-built
design. It was built from scratch to be a hybrid, nothing else. Other
automakers may choose this route in the future. A successful plug-in hybrid
may also have to be purpose-built.)

--- ACEEE considers power plant emissions attributed to charging of the
vehicle’s battery from the grid. The advocacy group also looks at the
current and potential costs of large battery packs needed for all-electric
range of PHEVs.

With the limited information ACEEE has to work with the group has some hopes
with some reservations.

--- ACEEE thinks that fuel economy estimates for PHEVs is somewhat overblown
and wishes they weren’t. Since policy makers may be dealing with legislation
dealing with PHEVs they need more accurate information. Consumers, too,
deserve realistic information so as not raise false hopes.

--- Fuel economy for a plug-in with a 20-mile electric-only range would be
30 percent higher than a conventional hybrid, but 50 percent higher if a
plug-in traveled 40 miles in all-electric mode.

--- Lithium-ion batteries, because of their low weight and small size, would
be best suited for plug-in hybrids, but ACEEE is concerned about their high
cost and untested longevity.

--- ACEEE is also concerned about the overall costs of PHEVs. The pay back
period for the additional costs of the technology won’t drop to 3 years
(seen as desirable) unless the price of batteries drops or the price of gas

--- A PHEV plugged into a California’s fairly clean power grid will see
overall greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 32 percent. But, on average
nationwide where most electricity is from coal, the figure drops to 15

--- And, if battery technology continues to improve (as it has been) and
the power grid gets cleaner, then pure battery electric vehicles could
become a “broadly applicable technology.”

In the end ACEEE calls for more PHEV demonstration programs and incentives
for advanced battery production that would lead to a drop in cost for PHEVs.

The full report is available at ( A print
version is available for a fee.)


This week’s news.

While General Electric has been going gangbusters with its wind energy
division almost since the day it was acquired from Enron, its solar energy
division, once AstroPower, has been moving a slower pace.

Finally, GE has secured a notable solar order. The company will be supplying
three-megawatts worth of 200-watt solar power modules along with
balance-of-system equipment for a project being developed in Yong Gwang,

GE says the order is the company’s largest single order globally to date.

The project is being developed by Korea Hydro Nuclear Power which supplies
more than 40 percent of the nation’s power. The solar modules will be
manufactured at GE solar facilities in Newark, Delaware. Visit GE Solar at

Windows on the sunny side of a home or office easily provide significant if
not all of the heat for a well-insulated, well-sealed room even during
coldest days of winter.

But what about electricity? Could windows be developed to generate
electricity while still allowing light to stream in? Silicon is chosen as
the semiconductor for the majority of the worlds solar cells because it is
transparent when thinly sliced. Could even thinner silicon allow a window to
function normally (let light in, let people see out) while still producing

Octillion Corporation of Vancouver, Washington seems to think so. The
company says it has a series of patents and patents pending on a
groundbreaking technology (they say) that incorporates nanoparticles of
silicon that can be deposited (sprayed) onto substrates, apparently glass,
to make photoelectric window panels. The product, if developed, would fit
over existing windows.

It’s nearly impossible to determine the viability of a technology from a few
words on a press release backed up with disclaimers. However, many new
companies have no choice but to divulge as little information as possible to
keep it out of possible competitors hands. The company does say it has
entered into a research agreement with scientists at the University of
Illinois in Urbana-Campaign for research and development of the technology.
The collaboration gives the technology a measure of credibility. Visit
Octillion at

-- Don't forget about your thermostats! Check out the BEST prices on the


The same message has been repeated in various forms in this column.
Renewable energy is all about building capacity, and wind energy is the
fastest growing renewable power source on the planet.

Together the following wind energy projects will yield 717 megawatts of
power, about the same capacity as an average-sized coal-fired power plant.

--- PPM Energy and Horizon Wind Energy will be dedicating the first phase of
the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lowville, New York on September 26. When phase
two is complete the facility will have nameplate output of 320 megawatts
using 195, 1.65 megawatt turbines from Vestas Wind Systems.

Maple Ridge will increase wind capacity in the state by a factor of six. The
project was built to help meet New York’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS)
which mandates 25-percent renewables by 2013.

The project will bring $8 million per year in tax revenues to Lewis County
and $2 million each year to be divided between 75 landowners in land lease
payments; an average of about $27,000 each. Visit PPM at and Horizon Wind at

--- PPM has also broken ground on its next wind project: the 150-megawatt
MinnDakota Wind Power Project that spreads across the South Dakota and
Minnesota border in Brookings County and Lincoln County respectively.

MinnDakota will have 100, 1.5-megawatt turbines from General Electric. The
project spans 15,000 acres with only 300 acres actually used by the turbines
and support roads. All of the power will be sold through Xcel Energy , the
nations largest provider of retail wind energy . Visit Xcel at

--- Save Our Planet! Buy Green Energy! Available now from

John Deere Wind Energy has announced it has secured a supply order with
Suzlon Wind Energy of India for 247 megawatts of wind turbine nameplate
capacity. The order is for 30, 1.25 megawatt turbines and 100, 2.1-megawatt
machines. The turbines will be delivered throughout 2007.

John Deere is mum on where the turbines will be installed but says that the
turbines will be used in numerous projects throughout the US. The company
has been focusing on small community-based projects. Visit Suzlon at , John Deere Wind Energy at


--- Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation New
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Debuts At Clean Energy Event (click Press Releases)(A converted 2006 Prius
from Hybrids Plus )(9/18/06)

--- Orbital and Bajaj Sign New License for Gaseous Autorickshaw (click Recent News Releases)(LPG and CNG
fuel injection technology applied to Bajaj's autorickshaw three wheeler
vehicles.) (9/18/06)

--- Millennium Cell Awarded U.S. Navy Phase I SBIR Contract (Company will develop a novel, safe, high
energy density hydrogen storage system for use in small, portable fuel cell
based power sources suitable for a variety of military

--- Air Products Grants Argonne National Laboratory External Collaboration
Award (Lab helped prove effectiveness of Air
Products' electrolyte salts for lithium-ion

--- Altairnano, Phoenix and Boshart to Demonstrate Electric SUV at Zero
Emission Vehicle Symposium; Electric Sports Utility Model Also To Be On
Display (California Air Resources Board Zero
Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Technology Symposium,September 25-27, 2006
Sacramento, California (9/21/06)

--- Michelle Kaufmann Designs -- A New Prefabricated Home mkSolaire(TM)
Environmentally Friendly Green Solution for City Living From Michelle
Kaufmann Designs (Solar manufactured home)

--- NASA -- Short-Term Ocean Cooling Suggests Global Warming 'Speed Bump' (click More Life on Earth Features)(Average
temperature of the upper oceans has significantly cooled since 2003, the
decline is a fraction of the total ocean warming over the previous 48
years.) ( 9/21/06)

--- Raser Technologies Enters Design Agreement with a Singapore Company (Raser to provide technical, engineering and
design support for the development and manufacture of a switched reluctance
motor and drive; will receive royalty payments on sales of up to 500,000

--- SatCon Announces 10 Megawatts in Orders for Photovoltaic Inverters from
a Series of New and Existing Customers (click News
and Events) (Renewable energy subsidiary's backlog exceeds $16 Million.)

Events and Publications.

--- Renewable Energy Project Finance -- Capitalizing on policy frameworks
and innovative financing methods November 16-17, 2006 New York, New York

--- AltCar Expo Santa Monica, California, December 9-10, 2006

--- Worldwatch Institute -- American Energy - The Renewable Path to Energy
Security Renewables soon competitive in US.

--- Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) Fundamentals of Lighting
Efficiency Online Seminar

Send ENERGIES to a friend or colleague. Visit Green Energy News on the web
at . For ENERGIES paid and free trial
subscriptions please visit the web site. Green Energy News is not
responsible for content on external websites. Copyright Green Energy News
Inc. 9/16/06 vol. 11 no. 25.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

ENERGIES ... week of 9/10/06


In research published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters,
scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) document that
perennial Arctic sea ice - ice that lasts all year round - shrunk 14 percent
in area between 2004 and 2005. Scientists noted that in recent decades the
extent of summer ice - seasonal ice that forms in winter but melts in summer
- has been getting smaller at a rate of about 0.7 percent per year or
between 6.4 and 7.8 percent per decade.

The 2004 - 2005 perennial ice shrink is 18 times what had been previously
considered the annual rate.

Since the Arctic ice cap floats, its demise would have little effect on sea
levels. However, receding ice at the top of the planet may be an early
indicator of an increased rate of ice melt in Greenland and the Antarctic,
where melting ice would cause sea levels to rise.

In another report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, 19 scientists from 10 institutions concluded that there was an 84
percent chance that two thirds of the rise in ocean temperatures in the
tropical Atlantic and Pacific can be attributed to an increase in greenhouse
gases from human activities. In turn, the authors say, warmer water
temperatures have caused an increase in hurricane strength and activity in
both basins. Sea surface temperatures in those regions have risen 0.6 and
1.2 degrees F since 1906 they say.

The official word from the US National Hurricane Center is that hurricanes
are cyclical and warmer waters play only one part of many in hurricane

Yet while rising greenhouse gases, shrinking ice caps and increased
hurricane activity are growing concerns in the scientific community, some in
the oil community are still concerned about the supplies needed for growing
world economies in the future. The connection isn't being made as to the
potential damage to the planet that increased levels of burning oil could

In an attempt to relieve concerns about world oil supplies, Abdallah S.
Jum'ah, president and chief executive of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil
Company (aka Saudi Aramco), the world's largest oil producing company, said
in a statement that he believed there was 4.5 trillion barrels of
recoverable oil on the planet - enough for another 140 years at current
levels of consumption. Today's proven reserves are about 1.2 trillion
barrels. (The word "proven" in the oil industry means educated

But between the lines his words need to examined. He used the term "current
rate of consumption" but the rate of consumption is expected to increase
dramatically, not stay the same, particularly as China and India grow. So,
the 140 year mark may be considerably off.

And in the statement Jum'ah talks about new discovery methods such as using
computer technology as well as new technologies and investment needed for
better recovery rates from existing wells, tapping ultra deep offshore oil
and converting extra-heavy oil and oil from tar sands and shale into
marketable fuels. The research into new technologies and the investment
needed to implement them could require that the price of oil remain
relatively high in order to support that investment. Jum'ah did not suggest
that his company had found any additional "easy" sources of oil.

Visit Geophysical Research Letters at
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at , the US National Hurricane Center at , Saudi Aramco at


Right now there appear to be two directions green vehicle research is
headed. One is toward the development of cellulosic ethanol - ethanol made
from everything from wood chips to grass clippings - as replacement for
gasoline in conventional cars. The other path is toward better battery
technology specifically with lithium-ion batteries to be used in hybrid,
plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles.

Will one technology beat the other in the race for cleaner vehicles for
tomorrow? Or will the technologies simply converge and complement each

Since cellulosic ethanol could be derived from nearly free plant waste or
cheaply grown fuel crops (such as switch grass) it seems likely that it will
be less expensive to produce than today's ethanol made from corn or sugar

Further conventional gasoline engines need only minor and inexpensive
conversions to allow them to run on ethanol. Those two attributes alone
should should give cellulosic an edge.

But ethanol will always have less energy content than gasoline. More needs
to be burned for the same number of miles driven. Further, to substantially
switch from gasoline to the carbon-neutral fuel, significant investment
would be needed to produce the quantities required. Because of that lower
energy content the quantity of ethanol produced would eventually be greater
than gasoline, including the growth in consumption. Still then would there
be enough bio - feedstock available for production?

Further, ethanol fueled cars still have tailpipe emissions, thus cause air
pollution, though less than gasoline fueled cars.

For now, lithium-ion batteries, to be considered for the next generation of
electric, hybrid vehicles and the eventually the first generation of plug-in
hybrids, are expensive. (The Volvo 3CC concept electric car required 3000
AA-size lithium-ion cells. The street price today is about $2 per cell. Do
the math.)

Yet hybrid vehicles use the existing fueling infrastructure. Plug-in hybrids
use the existing plus an occasional grid connection. And pure electrics use
only the grid or a distributed energy source. The industrial world is
already wired, so the additional investment needed to connect the wired
world to cars is minimal. Further electric and plug-in hybrid cars can use
energy from a variety of sources: coal, nuclear, natural gas, or oil-fired
power plants as well as solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas, even
powerplants fueled by the same carbon neutral feedstocks used to make
cellulosic ethanol. They can also utilize power generated overnight but not

Of course lithium-ion electric vehicles are emission free. The related
emissions, if any, are from the source of electricity to charge them.

On both fronts there have been major announcements.

The Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) and
Honda have jointly developed a new technology to produce ethanol from
cellulosic biomass including inedible leaves and stalks of plants, such as
rice straw.

Apparently one of the problems in the development of cellulosic ethanol is
the formation of fermentation inhibitors formed primarily during the process
of separating cellulose from biomass. Those inhibitors interfere with the
function of microorganisms that convert sugar into alcohol thus reduce
ethanol production.

RITE, which is world renowned for its development of a bio-process for
chemical commodities production utilizing microorganisms, has developed with
Honda a process utilizing a RITE strain of microorganism that substantially
reduces the harmful influence of fermentation inhibitors and, in turn,
yields more ethanol. The process can also be used to make other products
such as automotive materials made from biomass.

The partnership will now research methods for mass production that will
include energy conservation and energy recovery processes to further reduce
the carbon footprint associated with production.

On the lithium-ion front Altair Nanotechnologies has announced it will soon
ship its first NanoSafe (TM) battery and has been delivering a barrage of
information about its new lithium-ion battery design.

The company says NanoSafe can be recharged to an 80 percent level in about a
minute. It too can be recharged up to 9000 times retaining 85 percent charge
capacity. (With daily recharging in an electric vehicle the battery pack
would last up to 25 years.)

The company also says that its battery is power-packed for its weight and
size. Altairnano laboratory measurements indicate power density as high as
4000 watts per kilogram and over 5000 watts per liter, up from about 1000
watts per kilogram for conventional designs.

The company also says NanoSafe is, well, safe. It won't explode like other
designs since the company replaces graphite, which can lead to explosion,
with nano-titanate material as the negative electrode. The possibility of
explosion has been a major concern of lithium-ion batteries.

Altairnano is delivering its first NanoSafe battery in September to Phoenix
Motorcars for incorporation into a freeway-capable electric sedan. The
company will also be working with Alcoa's AFL Automotive division to develop
a battery pack for medium-duty hybrid trucks.

NanoSafe battery technology will be demonstrated at the California Air
Resources Board Zero Emission Vehicles meeting in Sacramento, September 25
-27, 2006.

Instead of running along two different paths the two technologies -
cellulosic ethanol and lithium-ion batteries - could meet in ethanol fuel
burning plug-in hybrids that have zero vehicle emissions some of the time
but are able to use a carbon neutral fuel for ultra long trips or where
there is no grid connection.

Visit Altair Nanotechnologies at and Honda World
News at


This week's news.

It's not all that difficult to get into the solar cell and module business.
Companies like Spire Corporation, GT Solar or Amtech Systems will sell you
turnkey solar cell and wafer production lines as well as complementary
turnkey module and manufacturing lines. They'll even help you get set up and
teach you how to make solar cells.

In the end you'll have a decent product and you'll be in growing solar
energy business, but you won't be producing cutting edge solar products.

For cutting edge solar you'll have to go beyond buying solar manufacturing
equipment from a vendor. You'll have to make the equipment itself. That is
what separates ECD Ovonics and its United Solar division from many others.
Everything from research and development to design and engineering to
manufacturing and building the manufacturing equipment is done in-house.

Home grown may also be the reason ECD has been slower in its expansion than
other companies. It takes time to build all the solar-making machines from
scratch rather than just buying them.

Yet ECD is slowly expanding and has plans to have 300 megawatts of solar
building capacity in place by 2010 up from 28 megawatts today. This Fall the
company will have another 30 megawatts ready for operation and the company
has just announced that it would have an additional 60 megawatt facility in
Greenville, Michigan operating by the end of 2007.

It appears from now till 2010 the company will be in continuous expansion

The company's cutting edge solar are amorphous thin-film triple junction
cells that are made on a roll-to-roll process. The solar cells and the
company's solar products are flexible and lightweight and don't require a
glass cover for protection from the elements. Visit ECD Ovonics at United Solar at Spire at GT Solar at .

For companies that make the equipment to manufacture solar cells business
has been as brisk as those who make and market solar products themselves.

During the last 12 months Amtech Systems has received about $9 million in
orders for solar manufacturing equipment including a recent $2 million order
from an undisclosed Asian-based solar company. Amtech's solar orders for the
past 12 months have increased 500 percent over the previous 12 month period.
Visit Amtech at


China needs energy for continued economic growth and it isn't fussy about
where it gets it. Nor is China wedded to conventional fossil fuels, though
it is consuming plenty, by the looks. The country seems just as happy
building wind or hydro capacity as it does building coal plants or importing
fuels from beyond its borders. (The country might also see the rut the US
has gotten itself into with oil and not want to follow down that muddy

China too, although not a Kyoto signer, can and is getting involved in
carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

Through the Joint Application Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) contained
in the Kyoto Treaty, Spanish power company and wind developer Endesa has
announced it will buy 2.7 million tons of CO2 emission rights from three
wind farms and one small hydro project in China. In the agreement Endesa
will purchase all of the emission rights from these four sites from 2006 to

Overall Endesa has a target through its own Climate Initiative to purchase
15 million tons of CO2 emissions rights through to 2012. At its own
facilities the company has cut CO2 emissions by 27.5 percent between 1990
and 2004, while doubling their generation output during the same period.
Endesa further expects to reduce its CO2 emissions by 35 percent in 2007
compared to 1990.


--- Green Building Initiative(TM) Recognizes First Materials Recovery
Facility To Be Built Green in United States (click
News, Recent News)(Colorado recycling facility the first in US to be
recognized by the Green Building Initiative's (GBI) environmental assessment
and rating system for commercial buildings.) (9/8/06)

--- Plutonic Power Secures the Rights for Three New Run-Of-River Green
Energy Hydropower Projects (Proposed projects in
Canada for up to 121 Megawatts to meet energy needs of 40,000 homes.)

--- Color Kinetics -- Los Angeles International Airport Unveils
Energy-Saving Color Kinetics Installation
(More than 1,800 LED-based fixtures as part of a lighting renovation
project.) (9/11/06)

--- Fiberstars Recognized by Wall Street Journal for Technology Innovation (click news) (Fiber optic lighting uses 20%
energy of conventional lighting.) (9/11/06)

--- Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) -- Farmer Ownership Should Be
Federal Focus in Building Cellulosic Ethanol Industry (Group urges the US Department
of Energy to change its piecemeal approach to commercializing ethanol from
cellulose and develop a comprehensive strategy.) (9/11/06)

--- Cyberlux to Supply Cottonwood Fine Kitchen Furniture With its Aeon
Product Line (LED under cabinet lighting to be
offered by cabinet manufacturer.) (9/13/06)

--- Gensler -- First 'Green' Car Dealership in US Opens Near Dallas (click Press Room)(Gensler has designed the first
car dealership to register for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) rating with the US Green Building Council.)

--- General Motors Announces Collaboration With State of Florida and Inland
Food Stores to Help Bring E85 Ethanol Fuel to North Florida (click GM News)(A total of 17 E-85 fueling stations in
Tallahassee area started between now and the beginning of

--- European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) -- "After communications
revolution, we need an energy revolution" (Interview
with author Jeremy Rifkin.) (9/14/06)

--- Avista Offers Incentive for Washington Customers Who Generate Renewable
Energy (click News Room) (Residential and small
business customers who generate with electricity using wind, solar or
anaerobic digester may be eligible.) (9/15/06)

Requests for Proposals and Funding Opportunities.

--- Due date extended! The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has
released a Request for Offer (RFO) for purchase of renewable energy to help
meet its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals and its
Greenergy(tm)program requirements.

Renewable electric energy providers and project developers can download the
RFO documents at

The due date for submittal of offers has been extended to November 7 th, and
a second pre-bid conference is scheduled for October 12th.

Events and Publications.

--- American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Wind Power Finance & Investment
Workshop, October 4 - 5, 2006 New York, New York

--- American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) -- ACORE's Phase II Policy
Conference November 29-30, 2006 Washington, DC

--- 13TH Alternative Fuels & Vehicles National Conference + Expo 2007
Anaheim, California, April 1-4, 2007

Send ENERGIES to a friend or colleague. Visit Green Energy News on the web
at . For ENERGIES paid and free trial
subscriptions please visit the web site. Green Energy News is not
responsible for content on external websites. Copyright Green Energy News
Inc. 9/16/06 vol. 11 no. 25.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Alternative Energy Blog of the week
  • Plug-In Hybrid Campaign

    Posted: 2006-09-03 00:58

    I encourage everyone to sign this online plug in hybrid campaign urging automakers to produce plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The petition basically says, 'If you build it, we will buy it.' Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles are key to energy independence and reducing pollution.

    Over 40 percent of the generating capacity in the U.S. sits idle or operates at a reduced load overnight, when most PHEVs would be charged. That means tens of millions of plug-ins could be charged every night without the need to build additional electric generation capacity.

    According to the California Electric Transportation Coalition that commissioned a study, if automakers begin producing Plug-Ins within the next few years, 2.5 million cars (eight percent of the cars on America's roads) could be Plug-Ins by the year 2020. That's the equivalent of taking as many as 5 million of today's vehicles off the road. Annually that's 11.5 million tons of CO2 which won't be emitted and 1.14 Billion gallons of gasoline would be saved each year. For those concerned about energy security it is definitely a step in the right direction. Less than 2% of U.S. electricity is generated from oil, so using electricity as a transportation fuel would greatly reduce dependence on imported petroleum.

    Sign the Plug-In Hybrid Petition
  • Is Ethanol / E85 Fuel the Solution?

    Posted: 2006-07-26 11:12

    I've recently received a number of emails calling for me to Kick the Oil Habit by supporting E85 which is a liquid fuel made up of 85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline. Having previously had my doubts about ethanol I emailed fellow blogger the Engineer Poet seeking his opinion. A large part of this resulting post is based directly on his reply and as such the credit belongs to him.

    So is E85 fuel the answer to America's (and the world's) addiction to oil?

    E85 fuel is not the solution. It is not even a part of the solution, it is a part of the problem. Here's why, in a nutshell:

    All US vehicles can burn 10% ethanol (E10), but the US does not even produce half as much ethanol as universal E10 would require. We make about 5 billion gallons of ethanol, but use 140 billion gallons of gas.

    E85 and "flex fuel" is a loophole for the automakers to sell guzzlers without having to pay CAFE penalties. It makes the problem worse. Ending the loophole probably means ending E85, because there is no other reason for it to exist.

    Since the best estimate is that every gallon-equivalent of ethanol takes about 4/5 of a gallon-equivalent of other fossil fuel to make it, each gallon of E85 really represents about 0.6 gallons-equivalent of various fossil fuels. Since most flex-fuel vehicles get roughly 2/3 the mileage on E85 as they do on gasoline, they burn about 90% as much fossil energy even at their best.

    Even if we can use "cellulosic ethanol" to reduce the inputs of fossil-derived fertilizer and whatnot, we can't make enough no matter what we do. The efficiency of the average gasoline-powered vehicle is about 15%, and we just can't grow enough inputs to make up for throwing 85% of our produced energy away. The most efficient use of biomass is in local combined heat and power plants, not as a feedstock for ethanol.

    Low corn prices and high oil prices, and a government subsidy of 51 cents per gallon have fuelled unprecedented growth of the ethanol industry. In the case of the U.S. ethanol industry, fossil fueled trucks ship the fuel halfway across the country from the population sparse corn belt to population and car dense states like California and Texas. Science magazine found only a 13% reduction in CO2 emissions for bioethanol over gasoline (and only 11% for E85 fuel). U.S. government federal records show a single ADM corn processing plant in Clinton, Iowa generated nearly 20,000 tons of pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds in 2004. The EPA considers an ethanol plant as a "major source" of pollution if it produces more than 100 tons of any one pollutant per year. From an emissions standpoint it is far preferable to drive a fuel efficient gasoline car than a low efficiency flex fuel vehicle running on E85.

    E85 fuel is not a solution. It is a distraction, like hydrogen vehicles. Further, every E85 vehicle is also a gasoline-compatible vehicle. It will maintain demand for petroleum as long as it is on the road. If you want to end oil addiction you have to get rid of the things which use it.

    E85 ethanol fuel may make a small contribution now, but it is a dead end. If we want to really be free of fossil fuels (including imported oil), we have to re-think things as completely as changing from riding horses to driving motor cars.

    Ethanol has already created an addiction of its own. The farmers and agribusiness interests which got into it found it hugely profitable, and they have big investments in its continuation. Even if you developed a better way of using corn today, you'd still have a lot of money lobbying to use it for ethanol, and even force it to be used for ethanol.

    This is already a race between technologies which can make us independent of fossil fuel, and technologies which get subsidy money. In that race, the subsidy seems to win every time. At least 43 percent of Archer Daniels Midland's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. For every $1 of profit earned by ADM's ethanol operation (the largest in the U.S.), it costs taxpayers $30. If you subsidize a technology which can only replace half our gasoline (and none of our diesel, jet fuel, or anything else), you're probably going to be stuck with it.

    A hobbyist wrote an article about his home-built plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). He published this article in Mother Earth News... in 1978.

    We don't need any new technology. We could be building these cars today. Heck, we could have been building them in 1995 (when the CARB ZEV mandate came in)... or maybe even 1985. They would have been crude, but they would have gotten the job done. We can do far better today, of course.

    People finally got fed up and started building their own PHEV's out of Toyota Priuses. It's time to quit the excuses, both making them and accepting them.

    CAFE regulations utterly failed to contain U.S. motor-fuel consumption. This is not opinion, this is historical fact. Now the E85 fuel campagin wants to do the same thing again, but "reduce" consumption with E85 instead of directly cutting gallons-per-mile. You'll get the same result as before - if driving doesn't cost more, people will continue to drive as much or more.

    There are roughly 200 million light-duty vehicles in the USA. One recent news item says that there will be all of 6 million flex-fuel vehicles by 2007. That's a whole 3%.

    The average flex-fuel vehicle is a guzzling truck (because they get the biggest CAFE preference from it). If those trucks get 13 MPG on E85, and they drive the national average of 13,000 miles/year, those 6 million vehicles would consume 5.1 billion gallons of ethanol. That's roughly the same as the total production capacity of the nation.

    The E85 fuel campaign is currently sponsoring a road trip to highlight the usage of E85, but also the difficulty of driving a car solely on E85 due to its lack of availability.

    the electric Tesla Roadster - 250 mile range, one cent a mile, 0-60 in 4 seconds, 130 mph top speed - photo from Autoblog Green

    However, had this trip been made in a Tesla Roadster or tZero from AC Propulsion, it could have instead highlighted how EASY it is to get electricity wherever you are... even if you never stop at a filling station! Using non-toxic lithium-ion batteries they have a 250 mile range, charging overnight from an electric outlet.

    E85 fuel is a distraction, a diversion, a red herring. Just as the switch to "hydrogen economy" (remember that?) was before it. Both require huge investment, new infrastructure and will not lead to a post-oil economy. The hydrogen economy was promoted principally by both automakers and oil companies as a stalling strategy to avoid having to change the way they currently do business. Oil companies were also aware in the unlikely event that the hydrogen economy did take off (with huge taxpayer subsidies) that they would be supplying hydrogen produced from natural gas which they were already profitting from. The automakers sat around lamenting the fact they couldn’t start to build cars as there are hardly any hydrogen filling stations and the energy companies would not open commercial hydrogen filling stations as there is no demand for them. While appearing to want to do something, both the automakers and energy companies continued for a few more years with business as usual.

    The Nissan Armada promoted on the E85 fuel site - with no fuel economy figures indicated

    The campaign for E85 fuel is somewhat similar. The automakers are eager to produce flex fuel vehicles which require a relatively cheap modification to the highly profitable gas guzzling SUVs they already produce. By backing E85 fuel they can continue to produce the highly inefficient vehicles while appearing to be green (as seen in GM's Live Green Go Yellow campaign). As GM admits the consumer can choose “to operate on gasoline or on a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. So, you can choose the fuel that's best for you. That's good to know, because E85 fuel is not yet widely available.” In other words in the vast majority of cases your new flex fuel vehicle will still be running on regular gas. Charter members of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC), which promotes E85 fuel, when it was set up in June 2000 include GM, DaimlerChrsyler, and Ford.

    Meanwhile E85 fuel is also been promoted by organisations such as the National Corn Growers Association, as well as regional and state corn growers organisations, associated agribusinesses and biofuel companies. All of which have a commercial interest in promoting E85 fuel. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a clearinghouse on political donations, the agribusiness sector has funneled more than $190 million into federal election campaigns since the 2000 election cycle. In the NEVC’s bylaws its purpose is described as to "ensure that as decisions regarding the future of America’s use of alternative forms of transportation fuels are being made, ethanol has a role in the nation’s alternative transportation fuel market and support the expanded use of ethanol" and to "advance legislative proposals" to this effect. This seems to be regardless of whether ethanol/ E85 fuel is the best or is even a good solution to our energy challenges.

    As the Engineer Poet points out in this post, burning fuel for transportation is very inefficient way of using energy. Whether you are fed up with the current use of petroleum for transportation for environmental, political or financial reasons E85 fuel is simply not the answer. What we need is a step change, as represented by moving from using gas burning vehicles to electric vehicles.

    To encourage this, I urge you to sign this online plug in hybrid campaign asking automakers to produce plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

    Autoblog Green's exclusive interview with Tesla Motors' chairman

    Tesla Roadster Video

    Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) - the Largest U.S. Ethanol Producer

    Vinod Khosla Debunked

    USA Today on the Ethanol Debate

    Cutting Down Borneo's Rainforests to Make BioFuels
  • Why Alternative Energy?

    Posted: 2006-07-17 10:00

    A poll carried carried out for the BBC World Service of nearly 20,000 people from across 19 countries found wide support for alternative energy strategies.

    The poll illustrates a perceived triple threat from the way the world produces and uses energy.

    Majorities across all 19 countries indicate that citizens fear:

    the climate and environment are being harmed
    that the global economy will be destabilised
    that competition for energy will lead to greater conflict

    Some eight out of 10 of those questioned were worried about the threat to the environment. In Australia, Great Britain, Canada and Italy the level of concern topped 90%.

    Doug Miller, president of the poll firm GlobeScan, said: "What's fascinating is that in the midst of historically high energy prices and geopolitical tensions, the number one energy concern in every industrialised country we surveyed is the environmental and climate impacts."

    Creating tax incentives to encourage the use of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power found favour with 80% of respondents.

    But there was lukewarm support for more nuclear energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. On average, 49% were in favour of building more nuclear plants.

    Majorities of 60% or more in 18 of the 19 countries polled said they feared energy shortages and prices would destabilise the world economy.

    The least concerned was Russia, a major oil and gas producer, which benefits from higher prices.

    Both US and EU leaders have warned Russia not to use energy as a tool of foreign policy. Earlier this year, the nation's monopoly, Gazprom, cut off gas supplies to Europe during a price dispute with Ukraine.

    Some 73% of those questioned were worried that energy shortages would lead to greater conflict among nations.

    In total, 19,579 citizens were interviewed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine and the US.

    Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners.

    Full Article on BBC News
  • $4b Investment in Wind Power by BP Alternative Energy

    Posted: 2006-07-17 09:15

    BP is making its first major investment in wind power with a joint venture that will lead to a major expansion of its generating capacity.

    The oil company announced it had entered a five-year supply and development agreement involving five wind power projects in the US with Clipper Windpower.

    The news sent Clipper shares up 80p, or 28 per cent, to 362.5p in London. The projects, with an anticipated total generating capacity of 2,015 megawatts, are situated in New York, Texas and South Dakota.

    BP has also secured a mix of firm and contingent orders of up to 2,250 megawatts of additional Clipper wind turbines in its global wind energy portfolio, the companies said.

    BP launched BP Alternative Energy to focus on solar, hydrogen and wind power but its wind operation has up to now been confined to two projects with a combined output of only 31 megawatts.

    Steve Westwell, the chief executive of BP Alternative Energy, said: "We believe the Clipper turbine is a breakthrough in reducing the total cost of renewable energy and we are pleased to be the first large customers for this innovative technology."

    This is thought to be the biggest single investment in wind power estimated at $4 billion US dollars.

    The announcement, came in the same week that the British government published its energy review and a telephone poll found that 79% of respondents thought solar power and 76% wind power were the best investments in electricity generation for the UK.
  • Alternative Energy Inspires Young Scientists

    Posted: 2006-05-15 01:41

    In Indianapolis a number of the 1,500 young scientists competing in the International Science and Engineering Fair for $4 million dollars in prizes and scholarships pursued alternative energy innovations.

    Seventeen year old Allison Wilson from Stuart, Iowa, won $11,000 in scholarships by making ethanol fuel from prairie grass.

    Renewable energy also inspired 17 year old Brian Sutterer of Terre Haute, Indiana, who generated electricity using the difference in temperature above and below ground (geothermal energy).

    2006 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
  • Ethanol Fuel in South Africa

    Posted: 2006-05-14 13:15

    photo (c) 2005 Julia Freeman

    Tumi Makgetla reports in South Africa's Mail & Guardian that while an interest in alternative energy and green politics is often seen as the preserve of the chattering classes, working-class people in Johannesburg's inner city are already using renewable energy in their homes.

    On a pavement in Joubert Park in Joburg (how Johannesburg is commonly called), shoppers cluster around Tumelo Ramolefi’s stall exclaiming and asking questions about his products. Ramolefi is not selling the usual inner-city hawker stock of facecloths and socks, or "smileys" (boiled sheep heads) and "runaways" (pigs’ trotters). Instead, it is his display of innovative renewable-energy gadgets that attracts the attention of passers-by, and often turns them into converts to the green-energy cause.

    His bestselling items are ethanol gel stoves and lamps, which offer a healthier, safer and more efficient fuel alternative to paraffin or coal fires.

    Ethanol gel is a renewable form of energy made by mixing ethanol with a thickening agent and water. The ethanol is extracted through the fermentation and distillation of sugars from sources such as molasses, sugar cane and sweet sorghum or starch crops, like cassava or maize.

    Ramolefi sells ethanol gel products and appliances for GreenHeat South Africa, which has branches in Durban, Jo’burg and Cape Town. The stoves and ethanol gel -- produced from sugar cane -- are manufactured in Durban. A two-plate stove sells for R160 (approx. $25 USD) and a lamp for R50 (around $8).

    "This stove is number one," said Maria Ndlela, who works in a recycling centre in Joubert Park and has owned her stove for two months. She says it is easy to use and, while paraffin is cheaper than the gel, the gel is more cost-efficient in the long run. Five litres of gel costs about $9.70 and paraffin costs approximately $3.55 for the same amount. "Gel lasts. If you don’t use it too much, five litres of gel takes you a month to use, but five litres of paraffin lasts only three days."

    Ndlela says an added attraction of ethanol is that the paraffin price fluctuates. “The price of paraffin is going up and down, up and down with the petrol price,” she said, “So now I’m forgetting about paraffin.”

    “What I like about the stove is that it will conquer our unreliable electricity,” said Florah Thulare.

    Safety is also a big selling point in favour of ethanol products, particularly for those who use coal or paraffin for heat and cooking. Paraffin stoves, which explode or are easily knocked over, cause fires, and poor ventilation can lead to asphyxiation.

    "Coal can actually kill you during the night," says Ramolefi. "In this coming month, we know people are going to die, but there’s no campaign."

    Gel fuel burns with a carbon-free flame, so it does not cause respiratory problems such as asthma, which can be caused by emissions from paraffin, coal and wood fuel. The gel also does not produce any smoke or smell.

    Gel fuel will not ignite if spilt like gas or paraffin. The gel is non-toxic and thus is not poisonous if swallowed by children. The stoves are designed so they will not fall over if bumped and the stove’s legs allow it to slide when pushed instead of toppling over. Even if an ethanol lamp is overturned, the gel will extinguish the wick.

    The stoves are designed for cooking, but about half of his customers buy them as heaters, said Ramolefi.

    Ramolefi has sold about 70 stoves in the past eight months and hopes the market will grow and prices will consequently drop, making the stoves more affordable for the poor.

    My latest post (July 2006) on Ethanol E85 Fuel

    Full article on how ethanol gel is replacing paraffin in South Africa
  • Austin Energy Excels as #1 Green Energy Electricity Utility in America

    Posted: 2006-04-15 04:00

    UPDATE: This is a list of the top ten green energy programs in the United States with the latest December 2005 figures and links to these electric utilities. One of the biggest differences we can make is to switch to "green energy" - energy generated from 100% renewable sources. Florida Power & Light is a new entry into the top ten at number four. The company recently announced the construction of the largest solar array in Florida on the site of a closed landfill in Sarasota. The 1,200 photovoltaic solar panels are each about 31 inches wide and 63 inches long. The facility is to be more than 28,000 square feet, or about half the size of a football field. "We sought a location that had a ground site large enough for 250 kilowatts of photovoltaic panels," said Jeff Bartel, FP&L VP of external affairs.

    If you live in a part of the United States that is not served by an electric utility on this list please see this Map of Green Energy Providers by State.

    As our energy challenges are global I appreciate every assistance in compiling a similar list of renewable energy providers in other countries. Feel free to email or leave a comment.

    Returning to the United States, Austin Energy has shown its commitment to renewable energy by topping the list. The U.S. Department of Energy said Austin Energy's Green Choice program sold more than 334 million hours of renewable energy last year.

    More than 350 businesses in Austin get their power from renewable sources as an alternative to fossil fuels.

    Austin Energy uses electricity from 61 West Texas wind turbines.

    Here's the top ten green energy programs in the United States (as of December 2005).

    1. Austin Energy -
    areas served include Austin, Texas
    green energy from Wind Power, Land Fill Gas, Small Hydro -
    435 MWh/year

    2. Portland General Electric (PGE) -
    areas served include Portland, Oregon
    green power from existing Geothermal, Wind Power, Small Hydro - 340 MWh/year

    3. PacifiCorp - includes Pacific Power and Utah Power
    areas served include:
    Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, California, Utah, Idaho
    green energy from Wind Power, Biomass, Solar Energy -
    234 MWh/year

    4. Florida Power & Light - green power from Biomass, Wind Power, Solar Energy - 225 MWh/year

    5. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) -
    green power from Landfill Gas, Wind Power, Small Hydro, Solar Energy - 195 MWh/year

    6. Xcel Energy -
    areas served include: Denver,Colorado; Elkhart, Kansas; Wakefield, Michigan; Saint Paul, Minnesota; Roswell, New Mexico; Fargo, North Dakota; Boise City, Idaho; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Amarillo, Texas; Eau Claire, Wisconsin
    green electricity from Wind Power - 148 MWh/year

    7. National Grid -
    areas served include:
    New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nantucket
    green power from Biomass, Wind Power, Small Hydro, Solar Energy - 128 MWh/year

    8. Basin Electric Power Cooperative (SMUD) -
    green power from Wind Power - 114 MWh/year

    9. Puget Sound Energy (PSE)-
    area served Washington state
    green energy from Wind Power, Solar Energy, Biogas -
    71 MWh/year

    10. OG&E Electric Services -
    area served Oklahoma
    green electricity from Wind Power - 64 MWh/year

    (source: NREL)

    MWh/year = million kWh/year rounded down

    List of Green Energy Providers by State

    One of the single biggest ways we as individuals can encourage the use of alternative energy and help aid the transition to a post fossil fuel age is to buy electricity partly, or preferably completely, generated using alternative energy.

    Switching your electricity utility provider may be as simple as requesting a form or filling one in online. That's exactly how I switched to 100% renewable energy (generated mainly from wind power with some solar power and small scale hydro thrown into the mix). Renewable energy options are available throughout the U.K. and in many other countries.

    To find out if you can switch to renewable energy in your area look on your search engine of choice for "green energy", "green power" or "green electricity". You may also need to add your location to the search. If your local utility doesn't provide a renewable energy option yet, email or call them and ask why.

    Original News 8 Austin Article

    Green-e Certified Electricity Products
  • Mixed Signals & Federal Funding for Alternative Energy Research

    Posted: 2006-03-09 11:22

    There have definitely been some mixed signals on alternative energy research recently. At the same time President Bush's State of the Union address called for a 22 percent increase in federal spending to develop alternative energies, dozens of staffers and contractors for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, were being laid off.

    The disconnect was a political embarrassment for the president, so federal officials restored the laboratory's funding, rehiring the workers who had been laid off just in time for President Bush’s scheduled speech at the NREL.

    In his speech the President acknowledged the confusion, “I recognize that there has been some interesting mixed signals when it comes to funding," President Bush said.

    This comes at a time when a new national public opinion survey demonstrates overwhelming public support in the United States for government policies and investments that will support development of alternative energy sources. The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, VA, for the Energy Future Coalition. The survey’s findings included:

    According to the survery there is nearly unanimous support for a national goal of having 25% of the United States domestic energy needs met by alternative energy by the year 2025. Ninety-eight percent of voters see this goal as important for the country, and three out of four (74%) feel that it is "very important." Ninety percent of voters believe this goal is achievable.

    Similar majorities support government action to encourage greater use of renewable energy. Eighty-eight percent of voters favor financial incentives, and 92% support minimum government standards for the use of renewable energy by the private sector.

    Nearly all voters (98%) say the costs, such as the cost of research and development and the cost of building new renewable energy production facilities, would be worth it to get the United States to the 25% by 2025 goal.

    Voters consider energy to be an important issue facing the country, rating it similarly with health care, terrorism and national security, and education, and ahead of taxes and the war in Iraq. Half (50%) of voters believe America is headed for an energy crisis in the future, and 35% believe the country already is facing a crisis.

    So just how much is the United States government spending on alternative energy research? After the 22% increase the budget will stand at $771 million. This amounts to less than one percent of the $55,000 million the federal government spends annually on research, nearly half of which is devoted to healthcare.

    It’s time for action.

    Source for figures on federal funding for alternative energy research

    President Bush's speech at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    America's Energy Future

Winter Heating Costs?

Don't let the winter heating costs FREEEEEEZE YOU! 
I don't know about you but winter is close by and I am already feeling the cold.  It's frightening.

Here are some tips to stay warm and financially afloat for the winter:
Stay warm this winter without the sky-high bills. Lou Manfredini, aka Mr. Fix-It, offers tips for saving energy — and money
Today show
Updated: 6:06 p.m. ET Nov. 30, 2004

Oil prices are up 37 percent, and propane and natural gas bills are going to be sky high.  So no matter how you heat your home, you're going to want to find ways to keep costs down this winter. Home contributor Lou Manfredini, aka Mr. Fix-It, was invited on “Today” to offer tips to get you through those cold winter nights.

Service your heating system every year
It's the best money you'll spend. The cost for a typical service call to clean the unit and change filters in both the furnace and humidifier, on average, is between $85 to $100, depending on where you live.

Install a programmable thermostat
This is a must. There are many different brands on the market that range in price from $50 to $125. You can program it to lower the temperature while you're at work or sleeping and save up to 30 percent in a well insulated home. What's more, outdated thermostats are the weakest link in conserving energy. According to the government's Energy Information Administration, only about 11 percent of U.S. homes are equipped with modern programmable thermostats. Honeywell®, a leader in control technology, estimates that homeowners can receive one to three months of free heating and cooling by installing a programmable thermostat. What are you waiting for?   {Editor's Note:  Check out this!  -- awesome thermos} 

Add weather stripping around windows and doors
This is a project that any homeowner can do. This also has a real impact on drafts and conserving energy. Door thresholds, window caulking and plastic window film can go a long way in saving your money this winter. If you live in a drafty home, you could save up to 20 percent on heating costs with an investment of as little as $25. There is even a removable window caulking called Wind-Jammer that can be pulled away clean in the spring. If you're replacing your front door, consider a fiberglass unit. These not only look great but have a higher insulating performance than traditional wood or steel doors. For more information check out

Install ceiling fans
Remember learning in physics class that heat rises? Well, running ceiling fans slowly and in reverse will keep that warm air circulating and keep you more comfortable. What’s the bonus? The time your furnace runs will reduce, which will cut your monthly energy bill.

Rearrange the furniture
Really. A couch or chair over a vent or in front of baseboard radiators decreases the efficiency of the units and causes your heating system to run longer.

Install a tankless water heater
This technology has been around for almost 70 years. Now units are less expensive and can save you hundreds of dollars each year. How? They create hot water on demand, so there's no stored water needing to be continuously heated. (Think about when you’re away or asleep.) What’s the cost? A small unit that will produce about 3.3 gallons of hot water continuously is around $500 to $700, while a standard 50-gallon tank heater costs around $300. But you'll recoup the cost increase in just three years, and then the savings keep coming. What's more, standard water heaters tend to decrease in efficiency as time goes on. A seven-year-old tank heater runs at about 60 percent efficiency, while a tankless heater of the same age runs at about 70 percent to 75 percent efficiency. The limitations? Multiple fixtures can't run at the same time, making it difficult to run your washing machine and take a shower simultaneously. But the savings are really worth it — trust me. For more information check out

Use compact florescent lightbulbs, or CFLs
These bulbs give off the same amount of light but use a third of the energy and many will last up to 5 years.  Electric companies across the country say that replacing the five most used lightbulbs in your home with CFLs can save you up to $60 a year on your electric bill. 

Install thermo-pane windows in your home
You'll increase your home's energy efficiency up to 70 percent. Multi-pane windows can have R-values of as high as 9.1. (The higher the R-value, the more resistant the glass is to losing heat.) A typical single-pane glass has an R-value of 1.

Insulate your ceilings and attic
Heat rises, and if there isn't enough insulation in the space above, your money is going out the roof — literally. Most ceilings and attic spaces should have at least an R-30 rating, although a rating of R-40 to R-50 is recommended for some areas of the country.

Let the sun be your guide
Why not? It's free energy. During the day, open up those drapes and blinds and let that sun heat your home. At night, draw the curtains to keep the heat inside.

Bonus tip
A small label can save you big money. Look for the “energy star” label on your appliances, easily found on washing machines, computers and stereo equipment. This label means the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have deemed these products to be energy efficient.

Use these tips and products to help you keep more heat in your home and, ultimately, more money in the bank.  For more help, visit my Web site:

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Bruce Mulliken - Green Energy News.

Welcome to Green Energy News    

ENERGIES... week of September 3, 2006,


In a published Memorandum dated September 1, 2006 to the Board of Directors of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) staffers include this:

" White House -- The Bush Administration officials, setting the stage for the President's final two years in office, are said to be preparing a major energy initiative designed to "change the whole nature of the discussion," taking on Republicans and Democrats, the oil and electricity industries, and environmentalists. A Bush advisor noted that the President's views on global warming have evolved."

If true, it's best to wait and see. However California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has broken away from the Bush Administration's recognize-the-probem-but-do-nothing stance on global warming. Maybe the Bush Administration would now like to follow Arnold's lead.

Schwarzenegger was encouraged this week when BP announced that it would support California's soon-to-be-signed-into-law, market-technology-based legislation to cut greenhouse gases in the state.

For the RFA visit . For the complete memorandum:



According to the US Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency (EIA) the nationwide average price of regular gasoline has dropped nearly 20 cents per gallon since the week of August 21 to $2.72 per gallon for the week of September 4.

What gives? Why the dramatic drop in prices?

Many things have happened.

-- The price of oil has dropped into the high $60's from the high $70's that was driven by instability in the Middle East. But, the month long war in Israel and Lebanon didn't spread throughout the region as feared. Further, the US is now at a standoff with Iran with it increasingly unlikely that the US will take military action against the country.

-- The yearly end-of-summer drop off in driving is now underway - less gasoline is flowing at the pumps thus it is cheaper.

-- A slowing economy may be suppressing prices. Fewer trips to the store also mean less gas sold at lower prices.

-- People do seem to be switching to higher fuel economy cars. The automakers have cut back production of trucks and SUVs because of slow sales. (Though certainly unofficial, used car lots seem to be overflowing with SUVs -- at very low prices.)

-- The ethanol shortage that began at the first of the year seems to have ended. Fuel distributors that switched to ethanol reformulated gasoline to replace MTBE at the first of the year found high prices and a tight ethanol supply. That situation has eased and the price of ethanol has dropped from around $4.00 a gallon in June and July to a low of about $2.30 a gallon today, according to the California Energy Commission and the Oxy - Fuel News Price Report from Hart Publications.

That dramatic drop in the price of ethanol could be the major portion of the reduced price of gasoline in markets that use reformulated gasoline.

-- The hurricane season is far less active than predicted. (Yet anyway. But, as each day passes the less chance there is for a busy season.) Most of the damage done to oil facilities by Katrina and Rita last year has been apparently fixed as well.

High gasoline prices have been a major complaint by voters of the Bush Administration and the Republican-held Congress. High gas prices would help the Democrats win seats in November. Lower gas prices would help Republicans keep control. And, lower seems to be the trend from now until November, unless something unforeseen happens.

Even with the lowering prices now at the pump and a major new find of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico by Chevron and partners (said by them to be as large as the North Slope of Alaska), the fundamentals leading to ever-higher natural gas, oil and gasoline prices remain in place. China is still growing as is India. And, the true nature of remaining oil supplies is still unknown. There could be much less in known reserves in some nations than once thought. (Iran has already admitted that it won't be a able to meet a future increase in planned production.)

The price of oil has been expected to rise over the coming years along a saw tooth, up and down, peak and valley curve. We're headed toward a valley at the moment, but there are still hills ahead to climb. It's just a matter of when we reach them.

For gas price data visit the Energy Information Agency of the US Department of Energy at mogas_home_page.html . For the fuel Ethanol Terminal Market Price from the California Energy Commission at


And by subscription ...

--- Dow Corning begins shipping new source of silicon for solar cells; could change the industry they say.

--- More wind energy for Iowa planned ...

--- FPL builds world's largest wind farm ...

Green Energy News is not responsible for content on external websites.
Copyright Green Energy News Inc. August 2006. Updated 9/4/06

Petratherm is drilling in the Australian Outback for renewable Hot Rocks energy.


--- Ballard Introduces Next Generation Air-Cooled Fuel Cell Stack. (Fewer parts, improved performance, lower cost for product aimed at the 1-5 kilowatt backup power market.) (9/6/06)

--- GE Enters into Patent Licenses with Repower Systems AG (Related to GE's variable speed technology for wind turbines.)

--- Johnson Controls - Saft Joint Venture Awarded Program for Lithium-Ion Batteries (The company has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with a major vehicle manufacturer to supply lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries for a development phase, to lead to volume production at a later date.) (9/6/06)

--- Petratherm's Well One Of Australia's Hottest 'HOT ROCKS' Prospects (Click Latest News) (Paralana-1 geothermal test well result paves the way to develop a commercial geothermal resource in far north South Australia.)

--- Power Air Targets Asian Market Through Joint Venture with H-Plus Group (The joint venture will develop, manufacture, and commercialize zinc-air fuel cell back-up power systems) (9/6/06)

--- Fuel Cell is 'BEGINI' ! (Portable fuel cell showcased at trade fair.) (9/7/06)

--- Whirlpool Brand, GreenHomes America and Edison Electric Institute Join Forces for Unique Home Energy Blueprint Program to Educate and Empower Homeowners Across the Nation (Ten Households Chosen for Energy Efficiency Upgrades to be Tracked for the Coming Year ) (9/7/06)

--- Carlyle/Riverstone Renewable Energy Infrastructure Fund and Bunge North America to Build Ethanol Production Plants in the U.S. (click News) (Production capacity of several hundred million-gallons-per-year by the end of 2008) (9/8/06)


Requests for Proposals and Funding Opportunities.

--- Vectren Power Supply has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable energy, including the capacity, physical energy, and renewable energy credits (REC). With this RFP, Vectren seeks to purchase a minimum of 5,000 MWh of renewable energy in contracts, to begin in 2007, is one, five, or 10 years.

Responses are due no later than October 6, 2006. For the full RFP visit


--- Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power Co. have jointly issued a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy resources. The RFP is part of the companies' plan to fulfill the goals of Nevada legislation that requires an increasing percentage of the electricity provided to come from renewable sources.

The companies are subsidiaries of Sierra Pacific Resources.

Proposals will be considered for wind, geothermal, biomass, and other non-solar resources eligible for portfolio energy credits under the Nevada renewable portfolio standard. Responses to the RFP are due no later than October 23, 2006. For the full RFP visit


Events and Publications.

--- American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Renewable Energy Resources Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) -- Teleconference: Maximizing Use of Government Incentives to Finance Renewable Energy Development" September 20, 2006

--- LED Leadership Summit -- LED Lighting's Upcoming Impact on Worldwide Architecture, Transportation, Retailing, Urban Planning, and Energy Consumption November 27 - 29, 2006 San Diego, California

--- Middle East Electricity Exhibition & Conference February 11-14, 2007 Dubai International Exhibition Centre, United Arab Emirates (Includes new & renewable energy)

--- DEWEK 2006 Conference November 22-23 2006, Bremen The International Technical Wind Energy Conference

--- Advancing Renewable Energy Conference October 10-12, 2006