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Full Cost Analysis Needed on Green Power

February 18, 2010

Full-cost analysis (FCA) examines both complete direct i.e. capital and operating costs and indirect i.e. environmental, health and social costs of private and public investments. 

FCA, many of whose methodologies are still being refined, is a much needed tool to enable companies and policymakers to accurately determine the true ROI of projects. It will hopefully end the free ride 'enjoyed' especially by highways, airports and sprawl.

Keeping the Desert Green By Banning Solar Plants, Wind Farms

December 22, 2009

One of our blog's readers, Sally, sent me a Dec.21 New York Times story on legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to protect some 1 million acres of the Mojave Desert in California for two parks, the Mojave Trails National Monument and the Sand to Snow National Monument. Yet doing this, said the paper, will scuttle some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for these lands via leases.

The newspaper reports that a fair-sized portion of that land had been donated to the federal government a decade ago by an environmental group, which had purchased the property from Catellus Development with private and federal money. The rest has been protected in some form or another.

Making Solar More Reliable

December 14, 2009

Solar power is in theory fairly straightforward: sun to panel. Yet there are many factors affect solar performance including cloudiness, dust and dirt, shade, obstruction shading, and inter-panel-row shading.

Moreover it is often difficult if not impossible to accurately tell which electricity-producing mechanisms i.e. in this case modules are failing without costly added service visits to detect the issues on top of the amounts charged for fixing them. Solar is not like wind, local hydro or wood/biomass-fed generators where there are visual, aural, and in the case of the last one olfactory clues as to problems. 

Homeowners and small businesses can ill-afford such added expenses. If solar was going to be this much hassle then why go solar? 

Premier Power Renewable Energy has an answer: panels made with microinverter technology that pinpoints which specific modules are failing so they can be identified and replaced on a regular service call. The devices, made by Enphase allows homeowners to maximize their solar energy harvest and reduce their utility bill by selling more solar electricity back to the utility i.e. net metering thus, says the firm, "substantially reducing their utility electricity bill."

Shrink your 'Water Footprint'

November 16, 2009

The best information sources are often your readers.

I received an e-mail last week from Jim McGilligan, who has a degree in engineering from the University of Delware, who just came across this article on water and energy titled: "What is your water footprint?" published in the (Lafourche Parish, La.) Daily Comet. Written by Tom Rooney, president and CEO of SPG Solar in Novato, Calif the article is "the best I've ever seen" on this topic, Jim tells me.

The article raises the key points that we should consider water consumption and concern ourselves with the amounts of energy required to heat and cool water when looking at shrinking our carbon footprints i.e. 'water footprints'.

Is Wind Energy Green or Greenwash?

November 2, 2009

The Friday Oct.30 edition of the Peace Arch News that is distributed in South Surrey and White Rock, British Columbia in Metro Vancouver that borders on the U.S. contained a thought-provoking snippet on wind power by Dr. Roy Strang who covers the environment for the publication.

In it he writes: "Europeans are beginning to find that installing windmills to generate electricity has not led to any significant reduction in CO2 emissions--despite all the early hopes and promises. Because wind power blows only fitfully, backup conventional generators are needed, at full capital costs, for intermittent use."

Green Tech Not 'Sexy' Enough?

February 6, 2008

Green technologies companies, CNet News blogger Michael Kanellos said in a Tuesday posting, may face an uphill battle getting customers excited about their products because those products simply aren’t “sexy” enough.   Kanellos pointed out that solar and wind companies sell electricity-generating equipment… not exactly the most exciting thing around. Nor are new types of water filters or home biomass heating systems.   In other words, Kanellos suggested, the majority of green companies “sell commodities you need, but don't desire.”   That may be true, but then again maybe not.

Investments in Green Tech Exceed $5 Billion for 2007

January 23, 2008

The business world took “being green” seriously during 2007, not only by espousing environmentally friendly practices, but also by putting their money where there mouths are. Reuters reported that investments in green technology by businesses increased 44 percent (the same percentage increase as in 2006), to more than $5 billion, last year.   That number comes from Cleantech Group LLC, an organization whose members include venture capital firms, investment banks and other investors, Reuters said. The group also noted that venture investments in alternative energy during 2007 (for both North America and Europe) was $5.18 billion, up from $3.6 billion the year before.   Reuters listed – green market segments in order according to how much investment each received: energy generation, energy storage, energy efficiency, recycling & waste.

Ausra to Build Solar Manufacturing Plant in NV

December 17, 2007

Todd Woody over at Green Wombat writes that “Big Solar’s time has come.” He’s referring to the news that Ausra Inc., is building the first U.S. manufacturing plant for solar thermal power systems in Las Vegas.   According to the press release on, “The 130,000-square-foot, highly automated manufacturing and distribution center will produce the reflectors, towers, absorber tubes, and other key components of the company’s solar thermal power plants.”   “Ausra can fill four square miles with solar collectors every year from this one factory, enough to provide market-priced zero-pollution power to 500,000 homes. Americans want clean power, and are tired of the market fluctuations, price increases, and pollution from fossil power plants. With market-priced solar power, we are entering the Solar Decade, in which massive construction of solar plants will take place.

Singapore Organization Creating 'Green' Building for Zero Net Energy Usage

November 7, 2007

The concept of “zero emissions”—or a system in which there is no net waste, because everything is reused or recycled—is challenging organizations and companies to come up with new green technologies, or uses for existing technologies, to cut down on carbon footprints.   One such project, underway in Singapore, was highlighted in a report Wednesday. It seems that a “zero energy” building is being created there by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the organization’s flagship “green” R&D project. The building is part of BCA’s Green Building Masterplan.

IBM Goes Greener

October 31, 2007

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