Hurricane Sandy Has a Clean Power Message for Mitt Romney, Too

Ethical Markets Trendspotting, Earth Systems Science

Hurricane Sandy Has a Clean Power Message for Mitt Romney, TooPosted: 28 Oct 2012 07:44 AM PDT

If presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn?t get Hurricane Isaac?s wind power memo back in August, maybe Hurricane Sandy can catch his attention with a broader message about getting out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. Sandy is on track to hit the mid-Atlantic states fully loaded, and right in its path is one of the most important military facilities in the U.S., Naval Station Norfolkin Virginia. For a big fan of military spending like Mr. Romney, that should start some alarm bells ringing. 

The Navy, Hurricane Sandy, and Climate Change

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has been a fierce advocate for clean energy, and he has not been shy about drawing a straight line between national security threats and climate change.

Part of the Navy?s concern is the vulnerability of its coastal stations to rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events associated with climate change. Hurricane Sandy is a case in point. As of this writing, Naval Station Norfolk is expending a considerable amount of effort on preparing for a storm system unlike anything ever seen this far north.

Romney and Clean Technology

Though Romney’s position on clean energy can be a little difficult to pin down, the available evidence points to some key weaknesses. For example, he supports the elimination of the wind tax credit, also known as the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power.

The tremendous growth in U.S. wind power industry over the past few years is directly attributable to public support through the PTC. Romney’s idea seems to be that wind power should be able to survive in the marketplace without federal support – though, for what it’s worth, taxpayers have supported all kinds of other fuels for generations.

Another example is Mr. Romney’s support for clean tech R&D. Again, his position isn’t easy to nail, but it seems pretty clear that he strongly supports a continued federal role in foundational research and development. However, he does not support the kind of public-private partnerships that help propel that research into the mass market.

Clean Energy’s ‘Valley of Death?’

Apparently, Mr. Romney is not acquainted with the Clean Technology Valley of Death. That’s the gap that exists between high-risk, cutting edge research in government and academic laboratories, and the availability of private investor dollars that can churn that research into marketable products.

The Department of Energy’s loan program, which began under President Bush, is one example of the ways in which federal support can help bridge that gap.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and while President Obama hasn’t made a major campaign issue out of clean energy his administration has marshaled the resources of multiple federal agencies to expand the federal role in pushing clean tech from the lab to the marketplace.

Aside from the obvious participation of the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the Navy in particular are the main players in the Obama Administration’s stepped-up clean technology policy.

U.S. Navy and the Future of Clean Energy

Unlike other federal agencies, the Department of Defense is both a deep-pocketed research partner and a very large, very eager customer. For example, as reported numerous times at CleanTechnica and elsewhere, the Navy has used its procurement powers to help kickstart the commercial market for advanced biofuels.

The think tank ITIF has also just come out with a new study on the potential for increasing the commercial aspect of the military’s clean technology initiatives.

This potential is already being realized. One example is the longstanding research partnership between the Navy and the biofuel company Biodico. The partnership began under the Bush administration and it was just expanded to include construction of a Biodico biorefinery right inside a naval station in California.

The new agreement includes continued R&D while the Navy purchases fuel from the biorefinery. The modular and shippable biorefinery, called ARIES, will also reduce utility costs by cogenerating heat and electricity for the station.

ARIES is designed to draw from local, non-food feedstocks and it also has the potential to produce marketable byproducts, helping to offset costs.

When fully integrated, Biodico expects ARIES to produce fuel at or below the cost of its petroleum-based competition.

In any case, if a President Romney turns a deaf ear to messages from hurricanes, perhaps he’ll follow President Obama’s lead and to listen to policymakers at the Department of Defense.

Image (cropped): Navy biofuel in action, some rights reserved by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

h/t for ITIF study: DOD Energy Blog. Check it out!



Greentomatocars to Bring Electric Taxi Fleet to LondonPosted: 28 Oct 2012 07:20 AM PDT

The company Greentomatocars signed a memorandum of understanding to supply 50 electric taxi vehicles from the manufacturer BYD to London.According to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson: “Every year [London’s] fleet is getting cleaner, making our city an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. Encouraging many more electric vehicles is a key part of this transformation, so it is great news that greentomatocars has committed to operating 50 of these super clean machines from next year.”


BYD e6 electric vehicle.

The 5 seat BYD e6 vehicles will be used as taxi cabs. They are equipped with 75 kW (100 HP) motors that facilitate a top speed of 87 mph.

The driving range is 186 miles per charge. Remember that the way you drive and the routes you take significantly affect range. The best thing to do is abide by local speed limits.

Routes with more traffic can shorten your range, and driving at higher speeds reduces range due to the fact that efficiency is reduced.

Charge time ranges from 40 minutes to 20 hours depending on the type of charger used. The ability to charge in 40 minutes is actually very important, because range anxiety is largely amplified by the inability to sit in a pubic place for hours while the car charges. I commend BYD for providing this quick-charging option.

According to Johnny Goldstone, who is the managing director of Greentomatocars: “As a car, we see strong parallels between the e6 of today and the then-unfashionable Toyota Prius of 2006,” he said. “It’s exciting to think that, even as a five-car start-up, we played a major role in making the Prius popular; given the scale, experience and high-tech infrastructure we now have at our disposal, we’d love to ‘do a Prius’ with the e6, and help propel electric vehicles into the automotive mainstream – where they deserve and, for all our sakes, need to be.”

Source: BusinessGreen
Photo Credit: BYD Website



First Solar Partners with PJB Services to Build 100MW Solar PV Projects in IndonesiaPosted: 28 Oct 2012 07:06 AM PDT

US thin-film panel provider First Solar has signed a memorandum of understanding with PT. Pembangkitan Jawa Bali Services (PJB Services) for the development of 100 MW of utility-scale solar PV power plants in Indonesia.”Indonesia has an increasingly urgent need for reliable, cost-effective energy resources. The agreement with PJB Services facilitates an ideal collaboration to provide Indonesia with the needed solution,” said Won Park, First Solar’s Senior Manager of Business Development and Sales in Southeast Asia.

This deal marks the first development of utility-scale solar photovoltaic power projects for PJB Services, a leading service provider for operation and maintenance of conventional power projects in Indonesia. This agreement seems to be a part of First Solar’s strategy of foraying into the fast-growing sustainable energy markets worldwide.

First Solar will provide its high efficiency advanced thin-film PV modules and related components for the 100 MW solar PV power projects including hybrid systems.

“We are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with a world leader in solar energy for the development of utility-scale PV power plants in Indonesia,” said Bernadus Sudarmanta, President of PJB Services.

First Solar has been steadily foraying into the Asian solar energy markets. Recently, First Solar has bagged a deal for the supply of its panels to two solar photovoltaic power plants to be constructed in India’s Rajasthan state.

Indonesian government plans to generate 17% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. At present, 5.7% of electricity is from renewable sources, 24.5% is from coal and 20.1% from gas.

Image Credit: First Solar

The views presented in the above article are the author’s personal views only



U.S. Companies Recognized as Bicycle Friendly BusinessesPosted: 28 Oct 2012 04:10 AM PDT

With bicycling becoming even more popular across the U.S – well, actually, it is starting to skyrocket – people are starting to recognize that biking is the ticket to health, mobility, freedom, and fun.While support for biking is growing throughout communities and universities as an alternative mode of transportation, businesses are also jumping on board to actively support bicycling for their employees.

To help encourage bicycling and pave the way for a better, healthier future, the American League of Bicyclist has created a list of Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFBs).

Some of the bigger named companies recently honored in this list include Facebook, Angie’s List, General Mills, Apple, and the Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Last week, the League recognized 71 new BFBs for their role in pedaling America toward greater prosperity and making their businesses welcoming to bicyclists.

With the new addition of recognized businesses, the total number of BFBs is almost 500 businesses across 42 states and the District of Columbia.

“Businesses are the engine of our economy, but more and more companies are realizing the bicycle can be a powerful catalyst for increased profits, reduced health care costs, happier employees and more customers,” says League President, Andy Clarke.

“We’re excited to see the most innovative minds in technology, retail, and manufacturing voting for a more bicycle-friendly America and making significant contributions to our economic growth by promoting healthy, sustainable transportation.”

Bicycle-friendly businesses encourage a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers alike. Through cost-effective investments, BFBs attract, reward and retain staff that are not only healthier and happier, but more productive, driven and passionate about the work they do and the communities they live in.

Here are some of the companies from the most recent round of awards and their level of bike friendliness:

  • § Facebook (Gold)
  • § Apple, Inc. (Silver)
  • § Burton Snowboards (Silver)
  • § Hewlett-Packard Company (Silver)
  • § Amway (Bronze)
  • § Angie’s List (Bronze)
  • § General Mills (Bronze)
  • § William-Sonoma Inc. (Bronze)

Click here for the list of Fall 2012 awards.

Click here for the full list of all Bicycle Friendly Businesses.

Facebook, which was honored with the Gold level BFB, is just one example of how a large company can make a huge impact to enhance the workplace, contribute to the community, and improve its overall earnings.

“We’re honored to receive this award from the League of American Bicyclists,” says Jessica Herrera, Facebook’s Transportation Manager. “Over the years, we’ve focused on providing sustainable, green transportation alternatives to our employees, as well as helping our local neighborhood do the same. These efforts have included providing bicycles to our employees to use on or off campus, helping to re-stripe the roads around our neighborhood for the safety of cyclists in the area, and offering bicycle repairs onsite. Our employees are enthusiastic about these efforts, many choosing to cycle to work each day and others participating in events such as Bike to Work Day. We’re proud to support these initiatives and look forward to more opportunities to help in the future.?

Companies like Facebook are no stranger in leading the way in innovation, and this is a prime example of how a business can have a positive impact on their employees and communities.

Image Source: biking via Shutterstock