Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency
Ken Novak's Weblog
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Massive collection of news stories, blog links, and articles on renewables and clean tech. Includes some unique content, like an analysis
of the implications of today's solar silicon shortage, which "will likely end at some time from 2008 to 2010" when production levels are expected to at least double. "it is reasonable to suppose that the solar silicon shortage will
continue in 2007, but will be greatly reduced in 2008 and will come to
an end by 2010," which has some implications for thin-film producers. "In industrialized nations with solar incentives, such as the USA,
Germany, and Japan, the trend is towards a need for smaller and higher
efficiency solar panels, which means that silicon is best suited for
this market. In the developing world the need is for cheaper solar
panels that may take up more space, so that low cost thin films are
best suited for that market." 12:36:27 AM
Toyota pursuing plug-in hybrids and flex-fuel:
"Toyota Motor North America plans to pursue a
plug-in hybrid vehicle, touting the long-term potential of gas-electric
hybrids on America's highways. "Make no mistake about it,
hybrids are the technology of the future, and they will play a starring
role in the automotive industry in the 21st century," said Jim Press,
who recently became the first non-Japanese president of Toyota Motor
Corp.'s U.S. subsidiary, in a speech
Tuesday at the National Press Club." "First, Toyota is strongly considering introducing a flex-fuel vehicle program in the United States in the near term. We're already developing vehicles that can operate in ethanol-rich Brazil and we're optimistic that we can offer similar vehicles to American consumers. And, second, we are pursuing a "plug-in" hybrid vehicle that can travel greater distances without using its gas engine, conserving more oil and slicing smog and greenhouse gases to nearly imperceptible levels." 12:23:18 AM
BP to invest 8 bln usd in renewable energy business
: "BP PLC is to spend up to 8 bln usd over the
next 10 years to develop alternative and renewable energies, said chief
executive Lord Browne.
The planned investment, which is double its
existing spending on the business, seeks to create a new low-carbon
power unit that could potentially generate around 6 bln usd in annual
revenues within the next decade, he added.
The first phase of the programme will involve
1.8 bln usd spread over the next three years on solar, wind, hydrogen
and combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power generation projects.
'We are focusing our investment in alternatives and renewables on power
generation because it accounts for over 40 pct of man-made greenhouse gas
emissions, the biggest single source,' Browne stressed.
'As the pricing of carbon develops through
trading schemes and other initiatives, the market will grow rapidly as
low-emission technologies displace
less clean forms of power generation,' he said.
BP has identified sites in the US to
accommodate wind turbines with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts. It
is also finalising plans to invest 400 mln usd at one of its CCGT
plants in the US.
" 12:01:08 AM
Monday, August 07, 2006
Some Convenient Truths
: Short piece by Gregg Easterbrook that explains the optimism I feel on the technology of global warming. "Most progress against air pollution has been cheaper than expected. Smog controls on automobiles, for example, were predicted to cost thousands of dollars for each vehicle. Today’s new cars emit less than 2 percent as much smog-forming pollution as the cars of 1970, and the cars are still as affordable today as they were then. Acid-rain control has cost about 10 percent of what was predicted in 1990, when Congress enacted new rules. At that time, opponents said the regulations would cause a “clean-air recession”; instead, the economy boomed. ..
Emissions of CFCs have been nearly eliminated, and studies
suggest that ozone-layer replenishment is beginning. ..
[Why the pessimism on cutting GHG?] the success of previous antipollution efforts remains something of a secret. Polls show that Americans think the air is getting dirtier, not cleaner .. Democrats have found they can bash Republicans by falsely accusing them of destroying the environment. .. to acknowledge that air pollution has declined would require Republicans to say the words, “The regulations worked.” ..
Americans love challenges, and preventing artificial climate change is just the sort of technological and economic challenge at which this nation excels. It only remains for the right politician to recast the challenge in practical, optimistic tones... Cheap and fast improvement is not a pipe dream; it is the pattern of previous efforts against air pollution. The only reason runaway global warming seems unstoppable is that we have not yet tried to stop it."
I recognize that unlike previous air pollution, CO2 is the key product of combustion, rather than an irrelevant byproduct as most pollution is, so it will be harder to reduce. On the other hand, CO2 is directly related to fuel costs, which provide more economic push for reduction; America's efficiency is far behind comparable countries, and there is a large body of off-the-shelf efficiency technologies available; and are many non-fossil fuel alternatives already on the market, which drop in price with every year. Combining these factors, an 80% reduction in GHG from US levels seems to me feasible, especially over a 20-year period or longer. If I get the time, I'll write up the details behind these numbers in a future blog entry. 10:34:27 AM