The oil and gas interests that are behind Proposition 23 on the November 2nd ballot in California are faltering in the polls. That’s good news for the clean tech sector, but a less well-known ballot measure, Proposition 26, could still help pull the rug out from under California’s
Wind turbine technology has become a fully commercial venture, but the recent rapid growth of the wind industry has strained its supply chain to meet demand in a timely manner. Furthermore, unexpected component failures, especially electronic controls, gearboxes, generators, and rotor blades, have driven up operations and maintenance costs.
During the course of the research for a new report just published by Wind Energy Update, it ultimately became clear that reliable and verifiable data on wind industry operations and maintenance cost trends is quite rare. In fact, there are no current widely available data sets illustrating these wind industry costs.
Proprietary research, reviews of scarce secondary sources and anecdotal evidence obtained through confidential interviews with wind industry owners and operators and component suppliers suggest that operations and maintenance expenses are double or even triple what was originally projected, particularly with the latest class of multi-megawatt machines now permeating the global wind market.
In the slums of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, about 1 million poor people pay up to 30 times more for water of dubious quality brought to them in old tanker trucks than middle-class citizens pay for clean and safe water provided by the local public water utility via standard household connections.
Some may be shocked by these disturbing disparities in the developing world, but a lack of access to safe, affordable and clean water is also an issue in California, particularly in the Central Valley and along the Central Coast. In these communities, more than 90 percent of drinking water is sucked from contaminated groundwater sources. All told, more than 150,000 California residents lack safe water for drinking, bathing and washing dishes; even more have water service disconnected because they cannot afford to pay their bill.
If I were the new CEO of Chevron, I would stop listening to the lawyers and bring the engineers into the boardroom to develop a strategy to invest a good portion of last year’s record $24 billion profit into inventing solutions to the adverse environmental and social impacts of the company’s operations around the globe.
It is clear that Chevron’s historical reliance upon litigation to get what it wants is being eclipsed by new activist strategies that have effectively boxed Chevron into a corner.
Imperial County, tucked away in the southeastern corner of California, has long suffered from perennial unemployment rates exceeding 20 percent.
Yet Imperial County is also home to the “crown jewel” of all geothermal steam resources in the U.S., making it a prime spot to showcase how renewable energy can help spur the new green economy so enthusiastically touted by the Obama Administration.
Late December, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the construction of the $1.9 billion Sunrise PowerLink transmission line, which could send clean electricity from Imperial County to San Diego. However, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the California Supreme Court last January to review this decision, citing San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) refusal to guarantee that the transmission project would be reserved exclusively for renewable energy resources.
The “locavore” movement is big, especially in California. With the bounty of food found locally in the Bay Area, living off the land — and sea — is not only possible, but also a delicious exercise.
But there’s another, less obvious, revolution brewing here in the Bay Area: the “locavolt” movement. In response to high gasoline and natural gas prices, global warming and an increasingly unstable, scary world, people are looking to generate power right in their own homes and neighborhoods with free energy from nature.
Technology advances in computers, telecommunications, generators, inverters, and even cars, are all giving the locavolt new tools to harness renewable energy and lead a fairly normal life.
Within the next few years, plug-in hybrid cars in California will be able to serve as a mini-power generator for your home and store renewable energy from your solar photovoltaics system or your small wind turbine. Plug-in hybrids may also help balance out a smarter electricity grid capable of easily sending power back and forth between generators and consumers, much like we send and receive e-mails on the Internet today.
The earth is the water planet, so it should come as no great surprise that forms of water power have been one of the world’s most popular “renewable” energy sources. Yet the largest water power source of all – the ocean that covers three-quarters of earth – has yet to be tapped in any major way for power generation. There are three primary reasons for this:
The first is the nature of the ocean itself, a powerful resource that cannot be privately owned like land that typically serves as the foundation for site control for terrestrial power plants of all kinds;
The second is funding. Hydropower was heavily subsidized during the Great Depression, but little public investment has since been steered toward marine renewables with the exception of ocean thermal technologies, which were perceived to be a failure.
The third reason why the ocean has not yet been industrialized on behalf of energy production is that the technologies, materials and construction techniques did not exist until now to harness this renewable energy resource in any meaningful and cost effective way.