Archive for November, 2012
Despite some short-term challenges, including the fiscal cliff and the potential end of the Production Tax Credit, an emphasis on green jobs hiring is clearly going to bring long-term benefit for the cleantech industries. But as we have explored in previous stories on Green & Clean, there aren’t enough trained skilled workers who can step in to these jobs.
But training programs, looking long term to the future, continue to spring up across the country, aided by federal grants and nonprofits, and one of the most inspiring ones comes from an area that isn’t thought of as a cleantech hot spot: the Bronx.
In New York City’s northernmost borough, arguably most famous for being the home of the New York Yankees but also for having a rough-and-tumble reputation, an organization called the Consortium for Workers Education (CWE) has been been training adults and recent college graduates for green jobs. Read the rest of this entry »
When President Barack Obama passed the American Investment and Recovery Act in 2009, it included a number of provisions for supporting and accelerating the growth of green energy technologies. Much of the cleantech policy incorporated into that bill was first proposed by the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of union groups, small businesses, manufacturers, and social justice groups that work together to find common ground on environmental policies.
On Nov. 13, the BlueGreen Alliance unveiled what it calls the California Green MAP (Manufacturing Action Plan). The document proposes policy changes similar to those included in the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009 proposed by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), which were ultimately included in the American Investment and Recovery Act.
The California Green MAP is the fourth such “action plan” created by the group. Read the rest of this entry »
One fairly constant criticism of solar energy not being able to provide significant chunks of power for everyday life is that the amount of space and scale needed for installations that can meet those needs are staggeringly huge. For solar energy to make significant contributions to the electric grid, a whole lot of space must be devoted for power plants and solar farms.
For example, solar installations in the Mojave Desert, which receives about twice the sunlight compared with the rest of the U.S., can spread over five to 10 miles. Often, the high levels of sunlight craved by solar farms are found in the desert, but the drawback of locating huge solar installations in the desert is that not a lot of people live all that close to deserts, meaning additional infrastructure is needed to transport the electricity to population centers far away.
This gave Netherlands-based energy industry consultancy and certification firm DNV KEMA some inspiration. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s no secret that with each rise in government mandated fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, a corresponding rise in blood pressure among opposition groups occurs.
In August, the Obama administration did something that was largely lost in the noise of the presidential race: It issued cleaner auto standards that will raise fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That’s roughly twice the average mileage of cars on the road today. The standards are expected to save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump and cut U.S. oil imports by one-third, in addition to reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates auto emissions under the auspices of the Clean Air Act, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for passenger vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »
The first industrial-scale demonstration project for carbon capture, use and sequestration (CCUS) in the U.S. completed its first year of operation this month. In operation at a facility owned by agricultural processor Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the $208 million project is designed to test the feasibility of CCUS technology for mitigating carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sites.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Nov. 19 that the Illinois Basin Decatur Project (IBDP) has sequestered 317,000 metric tons of CO2 in its first year. NETL says the IBDP is “the first demonstration-scale project in the United States to use CO2 from an industrial source and inject it into a saline reservoir.” Read the rest of this entry »
Clean energy and jobs were one of the many issues that reelected President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were on opposite sides of during the race. Romney was a strong proponent of coal energy and oil and gas drilling, and, though his campaign professed otherwise, was seen to be much less so for wind and solar energy.
President Obama, of course, has championed green tech and clean energy jobs since the beginning of his first term, through federal subsidies and programs for the wind and solar industries, aiming at long-term energy dependence and growth of what he has repeatedly dubbed “tomorrow’s economy.”
On paper, both private and public boosters of green technology and clean energy should be energized by another four years of Obama. After all, the president is clearly a proponent of both, and the assumption is that his administration will continue to push forward on renewable energy. And that give green jobs and employment in clean energy sectors a major lift.
But according to several experts, there won’t be any dramatic uptick anytime soon. Read the rest of this entry »
A tree called Hevea brasiliensis drives the world – quite literally. Hevea brasiliensis is the world’s number one source for natural rubber, and though the primary use is in vehicle tires, it has hundreds of consumer and industrial applications. These include uses in building and bridge construction, medicine, personal care and transportation, and in many cases, it cannot be replaced by synthetic, or petroleum-based, rubber.
Most natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, comes from latex, the milky tree sap of Hevea brasilensis. The trees are tapped by making an incision in the bark of the tree and collecting the sap in a bucket – a very low-tech process and much like the way maple trees are tapped to make maple syrup. The latex is then refined into natural rubber.
Rubber – and the trees that produce it – has its origins in South America, but today most of the world’s rubber comes from Southeast Asia. But supplies are shortening, which is driving up prices for finished products from all industries that use rubber as a raw material. And it is only going to get worse; the global shortage of natural rubber is expected to deepen this year, the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries has predicted. Read the rest of this entry »
In recent weeks, various policy players have been discussing the possibility of implementing a carbon tax in the U.S., that is, a pricing regime designed to increase the cost of fossil fuel usage and bring badly needed revenues to close the nation’s budget.
On Nov. 13, the Brookings Institution released a report entitled “Institute a Modest Carbon Tax to Reduce Carbon Emissions, Finance Clean Energy Technology Development, Cut Taxes and Reduce the Deficit,” recommending imposing a levy on carbon dioxide emissions starting at $20 per ton and raising it by 4 percent per year.
Such a tax would raise an average $150 billion a year over a 10-year period, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions 14 percent below 2006 levels by 2020 and 20 percent below 2006 levels by 2050, according to the organization. Brookings recommends investing the funds in clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives, along with tax cuts, deficit reduction and rebates to low-income households. Read the rest of this entry »
Reuters reports that British engineers have developed a method to create gasoline from air and water by extracting carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water, respectively, and then converting the resultant methanol. Engineers at Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), in Teeside, England, claim to have produced 5 liters (approx. 1.3 gallons) of synthetic gasoline over a period of three months, according to the report.
The most intriguing part of the development is that renewable energy was used to power the process. This shows that it is possible to create a carbon-neutral fuel “that can be used in an identical way to standard petrol,” Reuters quotes scientists working on the project as saying. Read the rest of this entry »
IKEA is taking another step toward its green goals by introducing a new sustainability strategy designed to help the company become energy independent by 2020. Read the rest of this entry »