Posts tagged ‘alternative energy’

California alternative energy legislation gets broad backing

Reporting from Sacramento —

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is spurring California legislators and conflicting interest groups to settle past differences and adopt the nation’s toughest renewable energy law to reduce the state’s dependence on oil and serve as a model for other states.

The effort is supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is eager to burnish his environmental legacy before leaving office in January even though he vetoed a similar bill last fall.

Both the governor and the Democrats who control the Legislature want to require privately and publicly owned electric utilities to generate one-third of their power from wind, solar and other clean sources by 2020.

After last fall’s veto, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order unilaterally imposing the 33% renewable standard. But Democrats denounced the action as mainly symbolic because it does not bind future governors.

This year, Democrats came back with a compromise bill, which has its first legislative hearing Thursday in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee.

“One needs only to look to the Gulf of Mexico and the tragedy and what happens when you just rely on oil,” Schwarzenegger said at an alternative fuel summit last week. “It is shameful how desperate and how dependent we have become on fossil fuels.”

With images of gushing crude and oil-covered birds dominating TV screens, Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff, Susan P. Kennedy, said environmentalists, utilities generators, labor unions and other industry groups that waged war over last year’s bill now are meeting at least weekly and are closing in on a deal.

“I’m very optimistic,” she said. “There’s always been a consensus around the goal. It’s simply a matter of identifying what the obstacles are in the implementation.”

For Full Article Click HERE

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June 25, 2010 at 11:42 AM Leave a comment

Oil spill seen as energy opportunity for Obama

Some environmentalists and liberal lawmakers believe the BP oil spill has handed President Obama a significant political opportunity to renew his stalled energy and climate bill, and are urging him to push for sweeping legislation to move the country away from reliance on oil and other fossil fuels.

An oil boom stretches across an opening in Lake Eloie near Shell Beach, La.

“He needs a response which is as big as the spill is,” said Wesley Warren, program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.

The climate bill that White House officials have been negotiating called for limited greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, transportation fuels and eventually factories. It included large incentives for drilling offshore, nuclear power plant construction and so-called “clean-coal” technology. It also would have required set levels of renewable electricity use nationwide. The bill included several sweeteners to minimize the cost for industry.

But that bill has bogged down in the Senate. And while White House officials continue to call for an energy bill this year, Obama has not publicly linked the call to the gulf spill.

Many environmentalists believe it will now be politically easier now to strengthen the clean-energy provisions of the bill and jettison industry breaks. But many longtime energy analysts say Obama’s options are limited for reducing the nation’s reliance on oil.

“In the near term — near term being 20 years — there is no meaningful alternative to using oil in the transportation sector” on a wide scale, said Charles Ebinger, director of the energy security initiative at the Brookings Institution.

Still, the nation’s reliance on gasoline means choosing between imported oil or increased domestic production — and there, the gulf spill may have an impact.

All signs from Capitol Hill suggest that Obama’s expanded drilling plans will find little support in light of the BP leak.

Environmental groups want the administration to push for enhanced oil recovery on land, especially if gasoline prices spike again and public pressure mounts for more domestic production.

Some drilling advocates are pushing the administration to keep its response to the spill narrowly focused.

“Getting to the bottom of this, considering adding safeguards, things that could prevent this spill from happening again and things getting out of hand” — those should be Obama’s focus, said Ben Lieberman, an energy expert at the free-market Heritage Foundation.

Many economists say Obama’s best chance to reframe the energy debate — and dramatically cut oil use — could also be the least popular—a large gasoline tax on gasoline, with the proceeds dedicated to alternative fuel research, reducing the federal budget deficit, or even refunded to consumers.

White House officials pushed back against a modest proposed fee on gasoline in negotiations over a Senate climate bill.

In an interview Tuesday, one of Obama’s top energy advisors, Carol Browner, said “There’s no doubt that portions of the debate are going to change” because of the gulf spill.

She added: “We want to evaluate, at the end of the day, are we doing what we can to break our dependence on foreign oil… are we putting a cap on dangerous greenhouse-gas pollution? There’s more than one way to get it done.”

If Obama can’t sell an energy transformation after this spill, Ebinger said, “He will miss a unique opportunity to point out to the people, ‘This is a situation we got ourselves into… let’s not be sitting here five to 10 years from now and be saying, we didn’t do anything to address it.'”

For more click HERE

May 5, 2010 at 10:14 AM Leave a comment

A Grid of Wind Turbines to Pick Up the Slack

Like most other sources of alternative energy, the wind can be intermittent. It does not blow uniformly, so power output from wind turbines rises and falls. And when the wind doesn’t blow at all, output drops to zero.

Intermittency is not much of a problem now in the United States, since there are relatively few wind farms and plenty of interconnected conventional power plants to pick up the slack when wind output falls, keeping the power supply stable. But if the proportion of electricity supplied by wind were to grow to, say, 20 percent or more, it would become increasingly difficult to handle the fluctuations in output.

One proposed solution to the intermittency problem is to tie many wind farms together with a transmission line — making an electric grid, as it were, consisting of wind turbines. Now, Willett Kempton of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration at the University of Delaware and colleagues have shown how this “all-for-one” approach might work with offshore wind farms along the Eastern Seaboard.

The researchers looked at five years of wind data from 11 sites from Maine to Florida, and calculated potential hourly power output for a typical turbine at each site. As they write in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that, as expected, fluctuating wind conditions caused power output to rise and fall at each site and sometimes reach zero.

But since wind conditions can differ greatly over the 1,500 miles of coastal ocean, when the researchers simulated connecting all the sites with a high-voltage undersea transmission line, the overall output became much more stable — reaching full or low power less often and never, over the five years studied, reaching zero power.

No offshore wind farms have been built yet, though several are in the planning stages. Operators would then have to agree to build the undersea transmission line, which could cost well over a billion dollars. “But the whole idea is that it would pay off over time,” Dr. Kempton said.

Click HERE for article

April 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM Leave a comment


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