Archive for October, 2008

Rooftop Mount Wind Energy System Comes to the USA

October 31, 2008

On Tuesday, 28 October 2008 it was announced that Michigan based Cascade Engineering has become a distributor for the Swift Wind Turbine in North America.

Renewable Devices, based in Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, states that their wind turbine system is the world’s first specifically designed for rooftop installation.  Renewable Devices says that their system is exceptionally safe, efficient and the operation is so quiet that it is near silent.  They have installations worldwide quietly generating clean energy for homes, community groups, and commercial industries for over 4 years.

Here is a quote from a press release on their website at

 http://www.renewabledevices.com/news/company/swift-launches-in-the-united-states.html:

“With rising energy costs and increased environmental consciousness, we’ve seen more people turning to small wind. For the past several months, we’ve been inundated with requests for the Swift before we’ve even launched the product” said Michael Ford, Head of the Renewable Energy business unit at Cascade Engineering. “The Swift wind turbine design solves many of the challenges of previous residential and commercial scale wind turbines: it registers as a whisper on decibel charts, it’s efficient, it’s safe and it’s clean.” 

The first commercial installation is atop the Frauenthal Centre for Performing Arts.  It was in unveiled in a ceremony attended by Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm.  The installation is a project designed to demonstrate a cost-effective source of clean, renewable energy.  This commercial installation will also serve to educate the community and show people how each of us can really make a difference by reducing pollution one home at a time. By installing these nonpolluting sources of energy right on your rooftop, you can cut carbon emissions, reduce your electric bills, and any extra electricity that you generate will put money back in your pocket.

These wind turbines systems feature a rooftop or wall mount, near silent operation, no vibration, and with a rated power output of 1.5kW they can easily generate up to 2000kWh annually (when well sited).  They work in smooth air and make the most of turbulent air.  Just install it and forget about it.  And don’t worry they are bat and bird safe.  Each unit comes with a 20 year warranty and is guaranteed maintenance free for life.

And remember that the Federal Small Wind Energy Systems Tax credits are available to homeowners who install residential small wind turbine systems. The credits are available for systems placed in service from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2016. The tax credit is for 30% of the cost of the system, up to $500 for each half kilowatt of capacity with an overall maximum of $4,000.  See the energy star website at:

 http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits#s10

And don’t forget to check your state and local governments for additional financial incentives.

These wind turbines are available in a couple models.  One is a standalone system that works off the grid in remote areas where electricity may not be available.  It supplies energy when you need it and stores the excess energy in batteries for later use.

 The standard model is designed for homes connected to the grid (electricity supplied by your local Electric Power Company).  It also supplies energy to you when you need it and when you don’t need it the excess energy is sent back to the power company and they pay you for it.  You can actually watch your meter spin backwards. 

 

Update to the 2010 VW super efficient diesel that gets over 200 MPG

October 30, 2008

I found some more new pictures of the Volkswagen super diesel production model on Motor Authority:(http://www.motorauthority.com/vw-boss-confirms-1-liter-car-for-2010.html).

 It’s still going to be a two seat tandem and it’s still going to get 235 MPG but now it’s going to be a hybrid diesel. They don’t expect to sell too many so they are only making 1000 of them.

Since they are handmade in the prototype shop they expect the price to be fairly high at $31,400 to $47,100. But I suppose when people are paying $20,000 to $30,000 for a Harley Davidson motorcycle I suppose this isn’t too far out of line. The vehicle is so small that some are concerned that the car may not pass the safety tests required for on-road use. But since the vehicle has tandem seating, a slight redesign could make it into a three wheeler. By putting a single wheel in the rear it would become a motorcycle and not be required to be held to the same safety standards as an automobile.

Bush Signs Amtrak Funding and Rail Safety Bill

October 27, 2008

Last week Bush finally signed the Amtrak funding and rail safety bill after the tragic September 12, 2008 collision that killed 25 people in Los Angeles.  Bush had opposed the bill because it gave funding to Amtrak. But this time around he signed the bill without question.  This provides Federal funding for many projects including high speed rail in the Midwest.  If we finally get our butts in gear we can get this project done.  Our politicians have been talking about it, arguing and dragging their feet for years and haven’t done a thing.  High speed rail from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and onto Minneapolis would give people the option they deserve.  The last time I tried to catch the train from Milwaukee to Chicago I couldn’t even get a ticket.  I had to drive down through all the construction and it was horrible.  I was scared to death half the time and I got lost on the way back.  When I can get a ticket on the train it’s wonderful.  I sit back and read and study and it worked done.  When I get off I feel refreshed.  We need a safer alternative to driving our cars everywhere.  This not only saves fuel but also wear and tear on our vehicles.

We need to get on our politicians and ride them until they get this thing done.

McCain-Palin 2008 Energy policies

October 26, 2008

Expanding Domestic Oil And Natural Gas Exploration And Production: “Drill baby drill” Has Been the chant of their campaign.  Drilling for offshore oil is an unrealistic fallacy.  If you look it up on the government web sites you’ll find a study by the Department of Energy that say the impact would be “insignificant.” Does it make sense to you to go after the same stuff that there’s less and less of everyday?  This isn’t gonna help our pain at the pumps at all.  All the oil infrastructure that they are talking about would take about 10 years to get up and running.  And even after it was all in it would only account for about 1% overall oil usage.  What this really means is after it’s all in place you will see about one penny less per gallon at the pump.

 

Taking Action Now To Break Our Dependency On Foreign Oil By Reforming Our Transportation Sector.

 He wants to “commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys a zero carbon emission car, encouraging automakers to be first on the market with these cars in order to capitalize on the consumer incentives. For other vehicles, a graduated tax credit will apply so that the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.” Now this a good start.  But it doesn’t do anything to get the inefficient trucks and SUVs off the market and our streets.  We need to charge more at the pumps for large and efficient vehicles and less for hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

 

I like the “$300 Million Prize To Improve Battery Technology For Full Commercial Development Of Plug-In Hybrid And Fully Electric Automobiles“because I believe we shouldn’t invest in new technologies.  He does, however, put all our eggs in one basket.

 

I’d don’t like that he “Supports Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) And Believes They Should Play A Greater Role In Our Transportation Sector.  It is true that Brazil runs about 85% of their vehicles on domestic ethanol.  McCain’s proposal to get rid of the tariffs on Brazil’s ethanol that is produced from sugar canes is just another imported fuel that keeps us dependent on imports.

 

His belief that “Alcohol-Based Fuels Hold Great Promise As Both An Alternative To Gasoline And As A Means of Expanding Consumers’ Choices. Some choices such as ethanol are on the market right now. The second generation of alcohol-based fuels like cellulosic ethanol, which won’t compete with food crops, are showing great potential” would make a great transition to all electric vehicles.  Any crop used for fuel would depend on powered vehicles to plant maintain and harvest them.  Today these vehicles are powered by Petroleum Products.

 

John McCain’s elimination of “Wasteful Special Interest Subsidies” is a good move.  Robert Kennedy Jr.  recently stated on a Fred Friendly’s Seminar series called “fueling our future” that gasoline prices are actually $10 to $12 dollars a gallon.  People don’t understand that the price at the pump is so low because it’s hidden in your taxes.  Subsidies to special interest groups allowed this to occur.

 

“John McCain Will Effectively Enforce Existing CAFE Standards” is a joke.  These are the mileage requirements that automobile manufacturers’ cars must meet.  They have been way too low for years and “Some carmakers ignore these standards, pay a small financial penalty, and add it to the price of their cars” which makes it even more ineffective.  The penalties have to be painful enough so the carmakers comply.  Therefore I believe John McCain’s quote that he “believes that the penalties for not following these standards must be effective enough to compel all carmakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles” is a good policy.

 

But what he does an address is how about more and better mass transportation systems?  How about encouraging employers to push for improved telecommunications systems and encourage people to work from home as much as they can?  How about encouraging employers to take mass transportation or carpool? This would put a huge dent in our fuel usage.

 

Investing In Clean, Alternative Sources Of Energy

I like this quote “John McCain Believes That The U.S. Must Become A Leader In A New International Green Economy. Green jobs and green technology will be vital to our economic future. There is no reason that the U.S. should not be a leader in developing and deploying these new technologies.”

 

But that he was often a la-la Land. “John McCain Will Commit $2 Billion Annually To Advancing Clean Coal Technologies. Coal produces the majority of our electricity today. Some believe that marketing viable clean coal technologies could be over 15 years away.” This sounds great (sarcasm here).  Invest and another fossil fuel that’s over 15 years into the future.  What a great idea.  This would be not only of no use to us now but it would also rely on another fossil fuel.  Bad idea.

 

Protecting Our Environment By Addressing Climate Change

I also agree with the cap-and-trade idea. “That Would Set Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions While Encouraging The Development Of Low-Cost Compliance Options. A climate cap-and-trade mechanism would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and allow entities to buy and sell rights to emit, similar to the successful acid rain trading program of the early 1990s.” this is good stuff but he’s not aggressive enough on the auto industry and all other pollution sources to get their act together.

 

We need to declare war on energy waste and air pollution.  This crisis is actually worse than the economic crisis that we’re in right now.  The economic crisis will be used as an excuse not to take care of energy waste and air pollution.  This will lead to further destruction of our planet and increase the greenhouse gas problem.  We need to create a WPA type program where we take all the people that are out of work due to this economic crisis and get them busy working on wind Energy and solar energy projects that will save our planet.

 

Promoting Energy Efficiency

“John McCain Will Make Greening The Federal Government A Priority Of His Administration. The federal government is the largest electricity consumer on earth and occupies 3.3 billion square feet of space worldwide.” This is a really good idea.  It’s good to lead by example.

“John McCain Will Move The United States Toward Electricity Grid And Metering Improvements To Save Energy.” This is a really good idea that doesn’t go far enough.  We need to put huge wind farms in the central corridor of the United States and huge solar installations in the sunny desert areas of the United States.

 

As part of this policy, John McCain says “we will also need to deploy SmartMeter technologies. These new meters give customers a more precise picture of their overall energy consumption, and over time will encourage a more cost-efficient use of power.” This is also a great idea.  He does not, however, mention smart grid technology that would another great energy policy.  Smart grid technology allows the consumer to select appliances that can be turned off during the day without affecting them at all and avoid brownouts and blackouts at the same time.

Another great idea that he does not address would be another work program where people could winterize low income homes and then work their way up to middle class homes.  These homes are notorious Energy wasters.  This would create jobs were they are needed and help people that are out of work due to this economic crisis.

 

 

Addressing Speculative Pricing Of Oil

John McCain wants two find the abusers and punish them swiftly. “To make sure it never happens again, we must reform the laws and regulations governing the oil futures market, so that they are just as clear and effective as the rules applied to stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. “ These are good ideas and should be implemented.

John McCain Does Not Support A Windfall Profits Tax.  A windfall profits tax would punish the oil companies that greatly profited from the speculation.  Personally, I’d like to see those profits taxed at a higher rate and the money used for work programs and research and development into green energy technologies.  The money could also be used for the home winterization programs.  See the exact details on McCain’s website: http://www.johnmccain.com

Sometimes a huge effort that falls short is still huge

October 24, 2008

If you have a chance, read this article:

UK wind farm plans on brink of failure

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/oct/19/renewable-energy-greenhouse-carbon-emissions

John Vidal, The Observer, Sunday October 19 2008

Here’s little quote from it:

“Last week Britain committed itself to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent. This week Gordon Brown will claim the UK is now a world leader in wind power. An Observer investigation reveals his hopes could be blown wildly off course. No country has tried to switch so fast to renewable energy – but rising costs and technical problems mean that, without urgent action and cash, the targets cannot be met. “

This is one of the most ambitious efforts I’ve ever seen. Even if they fall way short it’s still going to be a huge accomplishment. There’s a lot are really cool stuff in this article. In Berlin, they are putting together the world’s largest wind turbine. Each of the blades is supposed to be 20 meters longer than the wings of the world’s largest aircraft. The giant Enercon E-126 will sit on top of the 140 m tall concrete tower on a ridge that will put it 250 m above the ground. A single unit will provide nearly 20,000,000 kWh of electricity a year-enough to power a town with over 20,000 homes- WOW!

Now imagine a bunch of these babies lined up in that wind corridor in the center of the United States. We have a lot more wind Germany does. T. Boone Pickens isn’t that crazy after all.

JCE

Moving underground after 2 houses burned

October 24, 2008

http://www.wwmt.com/articles/california_1354907___article.html/taking_houses.html

Moving underground after 2 houses burned

October 24, 2008 – 8:07AM
CALIFORNIA (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A California couple who lost two homes to wildfires isn’t taking any more chances.

” This time they’re building in the landscape.  Skip and Linda Miller are building a home in the side of a hill with only one side visible.  The rest will be covered with fire-resistant landscaping.

 They watched their homes burn down in 2003 and again in 2007. The second time they escaped with just the clothes on their back.

 Going underground might seem strange for some, but the Miller’s say it shouldn’t feel that different from their other homes. “If you look at some of the models of these homes, with the use of skylights and the orientation of the building and everything, it doesn’t really feel like you’re inside than on a normal building,” said Skip Miller.

 The Miller’s say it was frustrating to lose two homes, but they’re just glad their family is safe and sound.”

Underground houses are an excellent solution to many problems.  They’d be perfect for tornado alley.  An underground house (if built correctly) is fireproof, earthquake proof, flood proof, soundproof and is naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

I just wish more people would take advantage of this technology.

JCE

Opinion: Obama is the Clear Energy Winner

October 23, 2008

 

John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s “is ‘drill, baby, drill.” Short sighted and foolish AND more irrelevant as oil prices fall.  It would take the oil companies 10 years to put the entire infrastructure into place to extract that oil that McCain is talking about.  The United States consumes the most oil of any country and contributes the most pollution.  Now that oil prices are falling consumers seem to be going right back to their old habits as pickup trucks and SUV sales are climbing.

 

When I look at Obama’s plan, I see a clear long-term vision that will put us in the winner’s circle as a nation.  His energy policies will reduce our dependency on foreign oil (see my posts on both their policies).

When you vote, consider the fact that the economy will improve over time.  Global warming, left unchecked, will destroy our future and most likely plunge our country into another economic crisis.

 

We need leadership

October 23, 2008

Here is some food for thought. Take a look at:

 http://www.env-econ.net/2008/10/the-economic-th.html.

Simple economics principles are at work here; Supply and demand. The price of oil goes up the demand for renewable energy also goes up. Currently there’s a huge shortage of wind turbines. See:

http://www.windenergynews.com/content/view/932/43/

And it’s just getting worse. See:

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/09/turbine-shortage-delays-projects/

As the prices of oil fall and the demand for a renewable energy sources remains high, demand will fall and hopefully prices will fall as well. And then we’ll go right back to using all the oil we can and renewable energy will fade again to a distant memory.  Then we’ll sit back and enjoy a ride in our giant trucks and SUVs; fat dumb and happy.  Renewable energy falls off the radar just like it did in the past.

There are many different opinions and approaches but democracy will prevail and dig us out of this hole. As you can see, pure capitalism fails miserably when faced with this sort of issue. When we become puppets of large corporations we are doomed to a boom and bust economy. Long-term solutions and long-term thinking pays off here. Europe has had a long-term plan for a long time. United States has had no plan (and no clue) for a long time. Our plan has consists of a series of starts and stops following the rise and fall of oil prices. It looks like the heartbeat and now it’s pretty much in cardiac arrest. Much of this has been orchestrated by large automobile manufacturers, the airline industry, auto parts manufacturers, and large oil companies. As long as there have been large corporations in the United States we have been ruled by greed, collusion and shortsightedness.

D. Eisenhower

There has been no long-term plan since Dwight D. Eisenhower came up with his vision for the future and created the interstate system of superior highways that we have today. Europe on the other hand has developed a superior mass transportation system and has hardly been impacted are all by the increasing fuel prices. In the great streetcar scandal of 1947 to 1949 General Motors and eight other companies including tire and big oil companies systematically eliminated America’s light rail system. They were all found guilty and only fined $5000 each. And this is just one example of the many such secret agreements and collusions involving large corporations with great amounts of money involved. Uncontrolled capitalism suffers from an old saying that goes something like this “a fool with a plan will do better than a genius without one.”

We need a challenge with a clear goal like John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech at Rice University in Huston Texas. He clearly stated that America was going to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s. We need leadership and we need a challenge with a clear goal. We need a great leader that will demand that America become energy independent and import no energy by the end of the decade. Lobbyists for large corporations and partisan special interests should play no part in this process.

It is common sense that any finite supply of a substance such as fossil fuels will diminish as it is consumed. Eventually there will be none of it left to be consumed. As demand increases from emerging economies such as China and India and eventually the rest of the world, prices will increase and that is assured. Decreasing demand around the entire globe would be the only way to keep the prices of Petroleum Products low and stable.

Boone Pickens’s right. To me it makes sense that in very hot areas such as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to name a few for example experience peak energy use for air conditioning and industry on a hot sunny days during the daylight hours. This can be addressed with solar energy to avoid the rolling brownouts and blackouts that we’ve seen in California. From my experiences here in Wisconsin, the sun often shines on the coldest days and the wind blows on the cloudy days when the fronts to come through. On the hottest days a summer the sun is shining bright, it is a very hot and our conditioners are running all the time. Storing solar energy is simply an engineering problem that is being solved as we speak. Advances in thin film solar cell technology have reduced the price to about a $1.30 per kilowatt hour. The cells are rapidly decreasing in price and should reach a competitive price of a dollar or less in the near future. As for the huge solar concentrators that heat water to steam to power turbines, the superheated water generates electricity during the day. At night this hot water under pressure could be stored inside insulated tanks buried in the ground. When electricity usage is much lower during the night, the pressurize water could then released back into the system and is able to power the turbines. This generates less electricity when less electricity is needed.

The desolate an empty desert southwest would be an excellent area to install a huge expanse of solar generators. In the Midwest corridor is an excellent place where huge when farm. It is also been proposed to install a huge when generation facility in the center of the shallow plateau that exists in the middle of Lake Michigan. Wind is constant and reliable in that location. All the solutions would need distribution systems and transmission lines. This is probably the largest complaint of many utilities. But if you look at history you’ll see that when large dams, like the Hoover dam are built the infrastructure is created to supply areas where it is needed. Build it and they will come. We have to plan ahead.

Yes these projects would increase the deficit substantially. However, in the long term there would be fewer wars and much less money spent. The deficit would become a surplus and a windfall would pay off the debt of the United States.

John Eberhardt

https://johnceberhardt.wordpress.com/

How much does oil really cost?

October 22, 2008

I just read this old but good article and the comments today at http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461. His math maybe a little off but the government sites are kinda screwy and airlines.org numbers do not agree so I can see where he could go astray.  Check out these two:

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_psup_dc_nus_mbbl_m.htm

http://www.airlines.org/economics/energy/MonthlyJetFuel.htm

Both sites claim the about the same month but the number are way different. The EIA site states that jet fuel is going at the rate of about 48 million barrels a month is July 2008. The airlines site states that they are going through 1.65 Billion gallons a month in August 2008? How can this be? It says gallons (bils for billions?) on top of the column. Even if they meant millions, 1.65 million and 47.76 million aren’t even close. Someone is screwing up here or am I reading something wrong?  According to what I can find on the government sites, they all seem to agree that we are pushing 21 million barrels a day into the US one way or another. To keep it simple let’s say we have a 30 day month. 21×30 is 630 and is fairly close to the monthly figures (a little high but I rounded up).

As for the article’s content, I agree that it would be a nightmare to be weaned off oil overnight but it needs to be done soon. Look at what Brazil did with ethanol-they are way ahead of us. And how about all those high MPG diesels that are all over Europe? They are made buy our automakers over there so why do they never send them to or make them in the US? My 99 VW Beetle TDI gets close to 60 MPG city and highway right now and all I do to get better than EPA is to keep my tire pressure up, time stoplights, do the speed limit and coast down hills. The new Toyota Prius gets only 48 city, 45 highway (right off their website) but they can’t even run ethanol. You have to buy a kit for a grand (see: http://gas2.org/2008/08/12/flex-fuel-kits-convert-toyota-prius-to-e85-ethanol-for-less-than-1000. There are US brand cars that can do better than that over in Europe but not in the good ol USA.

And then there’s the hybrids (all the rage). When I bought the diesel I was wondering why anyone would buy a stupid hybrid (with an unproven track record) that you can’t even plug in at home, charge it up and drive it for peanuts. If I could have plugged it in I might have bought one. But noooooooo you have to buy a conversion kit for big $$$$$$ to enjoy the “plug in privilege.” What the heck were they thinking? And why did GM kill the electric car right when they were way ahead of everyone? By now the Volt would have been on the market for years. Why did they let Toyota and Honda get the jump on them? Why is GM they closing plants for good and not retooling them for small new generation hi-tech cars like Honda and Toyota are? Diesel engines are about 30% more efficient than gas engines right out of the box. My car goes faster, hauls more and has tons of space in it (and it doesn’t have tons of batteries to replace only God knows when). The new diesels are so clean they can even be sold in California. And then there’s the question of why not a plug in diesel hybrid?

All I hear or read about is subsidies for cars by way of roads, interchanges, parking lots, gas, and oil wars. Lots of people I know get injured or killed in them every year. Big Airline interests get the next big wad of bills. Why is it that nothing goes to passenger rail systems anywhere except California (and they are going bankrupt over this financial mess). I read that California is putting in a 220 MPH rail run from SF to LA. Why can’t I jump on a train and go from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and then to Minneapolis? Have to go to Europe for any high tech transportation. The US is dead last. More cars on the road seems like a bad idea to me. Anyone ever think about that nasty mass transportation thing? Eeewww I might actually have to stand near other people. That would suck. I guess we should just stick to what we do best and spend our money blowin up stuff-cool!

Anyway this post-  http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461 is interesting. I agree with the comments- this post needs to be freshened up a bit. I think I’ll just check all the facts and write a simplified version (heavy on the bullets points) and post it to my blog. This needs to be on peoples’ minds NOW!!!

Next I’ll attack McCain’s and Obama’s energy policies. I know “it’s the economy stupid” but in the long run oil (and deregulation) really got us into this mess in the first place. If we didn’t finance terrorists with our oil purchases we would probably have a lot more money to fight terror.

JCE

Infrastructure and politics

October 21, 2008

After reading an article on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-a-lemay/mccain-palin-no-plan-to-a_b_133087.html#postComment) and the following comments, it is clear that McCain and Palin do not have anything on their website regarding improvements to our existing, decaying infrastructure.

 

 

How can we invest in infrastructure like roads if are too busy blowing them up in Iraq?  I haven’t cIraq War- we blow up stuffhecked in numbers but let’s say that we do invest only 1.5% of GDP in infrastructure and China spends 9% of GDP.  I agree that the infrastructure needs attention but also needs diversity.  The big car companies, tire manufacturers, and a bunch of the big oil companies and systematically destroyed our light rail systems as you can see if you research the great streetcar scandal of 1947 and 1949, and have been caught conspiring to fix oil prices on the number of occasions but have been able to evade conviction.  Shifting all of our transportation budget’s resources to serve the big automobile, oil and airlines industries have left us weak and vulnerable.  We’re well on our way to achieving a third-world infrastructure.  I think it’s about time we get back on track.

 

 I agree that our highways, airports, power systems, city streets, and rural roads need to be maintained but our railways, light rail and high speed railways, are in a more desperate need of expansion, upgrade and maintenance.  These mass transportation systems will significantly reduce truck and auto traffic and therefore wear and tear on our current highways, city streets, in rural roads.  We have ignored them long enough and it shows with our massive traffic jams on all our highways in all our major cities. This will benefit all the people specifically the middle class and poor. Talk about long-term economic peril…

 And don’t forget about electricity and the Internet!

JCE