Future energy
Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency

Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Thursday, December 28, 2006


Wal-Mart Pledges to Sell 100 Million Compact Fluorescents in '07:  "Nov. 30, 2006 - Wal-Mart has announced an ambitious campaign to sell 100 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) at its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations by the end of 2007.  .. [WalMart's] Ruben added. "Over the life of those bulbs, $3 billion can be saved in electrical costs and 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases can be prevented from entering our atmosphere. This change is comparable to taking 700,000 cars off the road, or powering 450,000 single-family homes"
  12:13:34 AM  permalink  

Joel Makower commercializes greenbiz.com:  The green info market matures.  "I've just launched a for-profit media company, Greener World Media, which has taken over publishing of GreenBiz.com, et al, from their nonprofit home, the esteemed National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, where the sites had lived happily for the past five years.

Why a for-profit? In 1998-99, when the idea for GreenBiz.com was germinating, there was no business model for giving away information on the Internet. That clearly didn't stop a lot of people, but it stopped me. So, I created "the resource center on business, the environment, and the bottom line," as we dubbed ourselves, as a not-for-profit resource, relying on grants, sponsorships, and the kindness of strangers.

That model worked for a while, but it wasn't sustainable. (There's precious little philanthropic money available, at least in the green world, for a nonprofit organization whose prime mission is to serve the needs of business.) And things have changed: There is a business model now for online information services, based on advertising, sponsorship, and other revenue sources. And the world of green and sustainable business has exploded, with plenty of new products, services, and company initiatives to be promoted."  This is good news.  In my 2001-2 Stanford Digital Vision fellowship, I concluded that information sources for sustainable energy were needed, and were on their way thanks to tech advances in blogging and the natural growth of the community.  In the last 2 years, I've trimmed my own blogging in the topic area as others have other voices and services have grown. Now it seems to be completely mainstream.
  12:07:01 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Wal-Mart's Solar Energy Vision:  Joel Mackower reports on Wal-Mart's "recently issued RFP, or request for proposal, to install solar energy systems on its stores in five states -- the largest procurement of solar ever proposed. Bids are due on January 5 .. Wal-Mart intends to notify the winner of the contract on February 28. ..

The confidential RFP document is part of the company's stated commitment "to reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next eight years" and to "design a store that will use 30% less energy and produce 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than our 2005 design within the next 3 years," according to the RFP. ..

Wal-Mart says it will begin installing solar on its stores in five U.S. states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Jersey. The company anticipates that "that only a portion of the stores in each state will be physically and economically suitable for solar installations," according to the RFP. It calls for bids for projects to be carried out during 2007, but is asking bidders for "expansion or build-out plans, including projected prices and costs, over the next five years." ..

What's the impact of all this? Wal-Mart doesn't mention a specific purchase size, but my sources tell me that the company could put solar on as many as 340 stores in the next few years. Assuming that each store utilized about 300 kilowatts of solar panels (it could be as much as 500 kilowatts), we're talking roughly 100 megawatts of solar. To put that into perspective, the solar system currently being installed at Google headquarters in California -- the largest single corporate solar installation in history -- is 1.6 MW, about 1/60th the size.  Of course, it's unclear whether Wal-Mart will install solar in all of those locations. The company could look at the bidders' numbers and decide to install solar at only a handful of stores -- or none at all.

Assuming it moves forward with even a portion of its plans, Wal-Mart's move is significant, and historic. While a growing number of companies are staking their claim at being "carbon neutral" by purchasing power from developers of far-off wind farms or other large-scale installations, or have installed (often with much fanfare) solar panels on a single showcase facility, no one has yet made a long-term commitment to "alternative sources of energy at competitive prices and in a form that is replicable among multiple sites and multiple building formats," as Wal-Mart puts it."  11:41:31 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, December 26, 2006


SoCal Edison to build massive wind farm: US wind projects scale up. "Southern California Edison on Thursday announced a deal with an Australian firm to build the largest wind energy facility ever built by a U.S. utility.  "This is triple anything that's ever been done. It's enormous," said Stuart Hemphill, director of renewable and alternative power for the Rosemead-based utility that supplies power to much of the Coachella Valley.  The 20-year contract, to purchase power from a 50-square-mile wind farm slated for the Tehachapi area about 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is with Allco Infrastructure of Sydney.  .. The deal with Allco, Hemphill said, allows SoCal Edison to begin to take advantage of the Tehachapi area's 4,500 megawatt wind energy potential."  Nearby areas (e.g., Palm Springs) have additional GW of capacity. 

More details:  "All of California's wind farms together produce 2,300 megawatts of power; the Edison deal by itself would boost that number by 65%.  The 1,500 megawatts in the new contract are enough to power nearly 1 million typical homes in Edison's 50,000-square-mile service territory.  The Edison project would produce more than twice the electricity of the biggest U.S. wind farm, near Abilene, Texas. ..

In California, all utilities are pushing to meet a goal of generating 20% of the state's power needs from renewable sources by 2010.  The looming deadline has triggered a flurry of new contracts by the energy companies lining up so-called green power.  Although the deal announced Thursday would double Edison's wind energy production, the utility said it would still struggle to meet the 2010 target.

Company executives said the first batch of power from the project was expected to come online in 2010, but additional supply would have to be phased in over several years.  The timeline — and the fate of the entire project — depends on whether and when the utilities can build a transmission line to carry the new wind power from the turbines to the state's power grid .. Edison and other utilities are working with state regulators on plans to construct the necessary transmission line. But the price tag is $1.8 billion, and the approval process for such projects can be contentious and lengthy."   I wonder what the rollout of big wind would look like with national government backing, like the Tennessee Valley Authority or Bonneville Power Administration had in past years.  This area has 4500 MW capacity, and it's news to grow to half that. 
  12:37:55 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Low temp geothermal: "PureCycle® geothermal power plant at Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska was selected as Project of the Year in the renewable/sustainable energy category by Power Engineering magazine.  .. The Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska has the first geothermal power plant in the state. It also is the site of the lowest temperature geothermal resource (165°F) ever used for commercial power generation in the world. The resort’s UTC Power PureCycle® geothermal system was commissioned in August and provides power for the resort’s on-site electrical needs. All 44 buildings at the resort – including a greenhouse, hotel, cabins and ice museum – are linked by a geothermal district heating system.More info:  "Although output from the installation is considered small for a base load power plant, the Chena plant represents a huge leap forward for moderate geothermal development and greatly expands the number of geothermal resources that can be economically developed. Prior to the operation of the power plant at Chena, the lowest temperature geothermal resource ever developed for commercial power generation was 208 F."  9:29:11 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Carbon Neutral: Raising the Ante on Eco-Tourism: Another case where an initially obscure policy-wonk idea has rapidly gone mainstream. And the baggage tag is a nice touch... "Buzzword of the Year: carbon neutral. .. The term will be added to the New Oxford American Dictionary in 2007 ..

Several carbon-offset Web sites, like www.carbonoffsets.org or www.terrapass.com use an online “carbon calculator” to determine the approximate amount of carbon dioxide produced when they travel. Carbon offsets, usually anywhere from $5 to $30, depending on the length of the trip and the form of transportation, can be purchased through a growing number of travel companies. Expedia and Travelocity both rolled out new programs this year that let travelers buy carbon offsets. Travelers who buy offsets through Expedia and its partner TerraPass, a Web-based for-profit company in Menlo Park, Calif., for a medium or long-haul flight get a “Carbon Balanced Flyer” luggage tag. The charge is $5.99 to offset about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide — the amount emitted, per passenger, on a round-trip flight of up to 2,200 miles; $16.99 for a cross-country flight of up to 6,500 miles; and $29.99 for an international flight of up to 13,000 miles."

  8:24:05 PM  permalink  

L.A. Auto Show: CEO promises GM will make plug-in Saturn hybrid:  No specific timetable.  Still, it's encouraging how pluggable hybrids went from a fringe idea as recently as 2003 to GM-scale conventional wisdom in 2006.
  9:41:29 AM  permalink  

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Last update: 12/28/2006; 12:14:14 AM.
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