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Friday, November 21, 2014

Honda concept previews

We are hearing a lot more about hydrogen powering cars.  There is a big push in New England, certainly MA as a start, to get fueling stations set up.

Honda and Toyota seem to be leading the charge.  We relish seeing different methods of powering cars, including EV's, biofuels that do not compete with food supply (corn-based), and, as here, hydrogen.  We believe the combination of technologies will reduce fossil fuel use and emissions.

Let us know if you have driven any alternative vehicles and your experience.

Honda concept previews cew fuel cell vehicle coming In 2016
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Honda is an industry leader in the development of hydrogen-powered fuelcell vehicles. In 2002, it was the first automaker to begin a retail initiative with the leasing of fuel cell vehicles to fleet customers with its original FCX hatch, and by 2005 it was already leasing the cars to individuals. A couple of years later the FCX Clarity was introduced and to this day there are roughly two dozen of the cars still on America’s roads.

Now, Honda has confirmed that a successor to the FCX Clarity will be launched in 2016. It will go on sale in Japan in March of that year and should reach the U.S. and Europe shortly after. The confirmation was made during the presentation of a new concept dubbed the FCV, an evolution of last year’s FCEV concept and a closer match to the production version due in a couple of years.

Fuel cell fans may note that Toyota also used the FCV moniker for its fuel cell vehicle, but the rival Japanese automaker has since confirmed that its hydrogen-powered car will be known as the Mirai when it reaches showrooms next year. Both Honda and Toyota see hydrogen as a high-potential, next-generation energy carrier due to their belief that hydrogen can be generated from various energy sources and is easily transportable and storable.

Fuel cell vehicles are essentially electric cars that use a hydrogen fuel cell stack to generate the electricity to power their motors. The fuel cell stack in the new FCV concept is 33 percent smaller than the one used in the FCX Clarity yet realized output is greater than 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) and output density is as high as 3.1 kilowatts per liter, improving the overall performance by approximately 60 percent. A full tank of hydrogen should provide a driving range of more than 435 miles, says Honda.

Filling the tank will take about three minutes, assuming you can find a station that provides hydrogen. And therein lies the biggest hindrance to the adoption of fuel cell vehicles: a lack of the necessary refueling infrastructure, though this doesn’t appear to be deterring the likes of Honda and Toyota.

In addition to revealing the FCV concept, Honda also presented a concept external power feeding device that enables AC power output from the FCV with maximum output of 9 kW (12 hp).This allows the FCV to function as a small-sized mobile power plant that generates electricity for various uses.

Sustainability Professionals Converge at ISSP Conference 2014

One of the great events we've covered this Fall.  Be listening on our broadcast section for some great interviews and specials.  See much more at:

It was a "who's who of sustainability" last week at the ISSP (International Society of Sustainability Professionals) Conference 2014 in Denver, Colorado, where leaders in sustainability came together to network, educate, discuss, and honor leaders within the profession. The agenda included the important task of shaping the future of sustainability. ReNewable Now was also on hand, gathering exclusive video coverage and interviews. These will be released in a series over the next few weeks.

This conference was something special, and yes, you could feel it in the air. When you think of the timing, it couldn't have been any better with opening day occurring on the same day as the historic climate change deal between the U.S. and China. Some may have said that this was only a coincidence, but for ReNewable Now there are no coincidences; this is a reflection of the growing importance of all around sustainability on every level. During the conference, we did hear from a number of speakers about the need to be dealing with climate change and how this is a matter of urgency. This couldn't have been better articulated or emphasized by noneHunter Lovins with Peter Arpin other thanHunter Lovins during the “Sustainability Hall Of Fame Wisdom Panel”. Hunter, in her own classic Hunter way, got the attention of the audience when she shouted, "Get prepared for a !#@% STORM(you can fill in the blank) if we conduct business as usual, we are looking at a collapse of all living systems!" If that doesn't get your attention, we don't know what will. The entire video of the “Sustainability Hall Of Fame Wisdom Panel” will be released by ISSP for your viewing in upcoming weeks.

ReNewable Now conducted over 50 interviews, and we tried to attend as many break-out sessions as possible. Our takeaway from the conference is that businesses who aren't thinking about how to incorporate sustainability will fail long term.  Those who embrace it will not only continue to be in existence, but will be part of the solution. In some cases, businesses will see the opportunity in problem solving innovations and profit accordingly. And for us that is what it is all about, rolling up your sleeves, be willing to sweat a bit, and feel good about being part of moving future generations in the right direction.

Our congratulations goes to the entire ISSP staff for putting together such an inspirational conference. We especially want to give a special shout out to ISSP Marketing Director, Ray Berardinelli, and his assistant, Elias Kauders for helping us coordinate all the interviews.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Climatologist: 30-Year Cold Spell

This is a very interesting article and perspective.

Our position has been not to get caught up in discussions of global warming and climate change, but focus on our ability to do more with less--to run the economy using less energy and little to no waste.  Our question:  What is the downside to that?  What is the fallacy of running our lives while creating less air pollution, less contamination in our oceans and rivers, water supplies, and less erosion of our natural resources?

Regardless, we'll see how the climate change plays out.  Might be a cold winter.

Climatologist: 30-Year Cold Spell Strikes Earth

Image: Climatologist: 30-Year Cold Spell Strikes Earth

With nasty cold fronts thrusting an icy and early winter across the continental U.S. — along with last winter described by USA Today as "one of the snowiest, coldest, most miserable on record" — climatologist John L. Casey thinks the weather pattern is here to stay for decades to come.

In fact, Casey, a former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant, is out with the  provocative book "Dark Winter: How the Sun Is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell," which warns that a radical shift in global climate is underway, and that Al Gore and other environmentalists have it completely wrong.

The earth, he says, is cooling, and cooling fast.

And unless the scientific community and political leaders act soon, cold, dark days are ahead.

Casey says the evidence is clear that the earth is rapidly growing colder because of diminished solar activity.

He says trends indicate we could be headed for colder temperatures similar to those seen in the late 1700s and early 1800s when the sun went into a "solar minimum" — a phenomenon with significantly reduced solar activity, including solar flares and sunspots.

If he's right, that would be very bad news.

"Dark Winter" posits that a 30-year period of cold has already begun. Frigid temperatures, and food shortages that inevitably result, could lead to riots and chaos.

Casey tells Newsmax, "All you have to do is trust natural cycles, and follow the facts; and that leads you to the inevitable conclusion that the sun controls the climate, and that a new cold era has begun." Casey is president of the Space and Science Research Corp., an Orlando, Fla., climate research firm.

His new book debunks global warming orthodoxy. For over a decade, he reports, the planet's oceans have been cooling. And since 2007, the atmospheric temperature has been cooling as well.

"The data is pretty solid," Casey says. "If you look at the 100-year global temperature chart, you look at the steep drop off we've had since 2007, it's the steepest drop in global temperatures in the last hundred years."

So how can the media and scientific elites make a case for global warming when it's actually cooling?

Casey suggests climate-change theorists have simply wedded themselves to the wrong theory, namely, that global temperatures respond to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

 Any scientist suggesting otherwise is castigated as a heretic, though there are other prominent scientists who support Casey.

Noted Russian astrophysicist Habibullo I. Abdussamatov has argued that a new, mini-ice age has begun, though Casey doesn't go that far.

He does agree with Abdussamatov that the real driver of global climate is solar activity, namely sunspots. These correspond to shifts in global temperature with a greater than 90 percent accuracy, he says.

The environmental left focuses instead on ever-rising greenhouse emissions, suggesting nature is just taking a bit of a breather before the upward march in temperatures ineluctably resumes.

"There are two fundamental flaws with that," Casey says. "No. 1, the greenhouse-gas theory, and the global climate models that they produced, never permitted a pause. As long as CO2 levels were going up, the only thing that could happen was global temperatures could go up. That has not happened.

"No. 2, there could absolutely be no cooling, much less a pause. And yet we've been cooling for 11 years now."

The recent polar vortex that sent temperatures across the Midwest plunging to sub-zero records is not an aberration, Casey says.

If "Dark Winter" is right, that means the nation is busily preparing for the wrong calamity.

"We don't have 10 years," Casey warns. "We've squandered during President Obama's administration eight years . . . and we didn't have eight years to squander."

The worst of the cooling cycle, Casey predicts, will hit in the late 2020s and the early 2030s.

Food riots will break out, demand for heating oil will spike, and the failure of the corn crop will put the squeeze on ethanol.

He even predicts the United States will ban agricultural exports to feed its own citizens.

When Casey developed his theories in 2007, he emerged with several predictions.

Rising temperatures would begin to reverse themselves within three years. The sun would enter a phase of reduced activity he called "solar hibernation." And oceanic and atmospheric temperatures would enter a long decline.

So far, all of Casey's predictions have come true. He says, "My theory tells you when it will be cold . . . and it is the cold that kills."

Casey also posits that a long-term cold spell will have dire effects on the earth's geology.

As air and ocean temperatures, the earth's crust begins changing, leading to more volcanic activity and earthquakes. Casey notes that the worst earthquake to strike the continental U.S. in modern times was in 1812 at New Madrid, Missouri – during the last great solar minimum.

The climate changes also will affect human activity and may be a prelude to revolutionary politics. He says the French Revolution took place at the beginning of the last solar minimum in 1789.

"It could be one of the reasons Putin is so eager to get Ukraine," Casey says. "For many decades before Ukraine became independent, it was the primary source of wheat for the Soviet Union during cold weather times. Putin must have the wheat of Ukraine for the new cold era."

Casey has a worried look as he talks about the revelations in "Dark Winter."

"There is no human on earth, much less here in the U.S., who has experienced the depth and duration of cold we're about to experience — it's that serious," he says.

G20 communique 'will include climate change'

We believe balancing steady, clean economic growth with environmental protection and restoration of natural resources is our overriding global issue.  The more world leaders link these paramount issues, the more progress we will make on both.
The G20 communique will include a significant passage on climate change, according to EU officials.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses leaders during the plenary session of the G20 Summit in Brisbane .

The United States and other heavyweight nations have overridden host Australia's attempts to keep the issue off the formal agenda.
Much of the meeting of world leaders in Australia has been overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine.
But today, momentum swung back to other major concerns for the Group of 20 leading economies, including climate change.
Reuters reports that is something of an embarrassment for Australia, which had argued it was not a clear economic issue and so should not be discussed at the G20.
Leaders of the world's 20 largest economies are discussing ways of boosting world economic growth but have also pushed climate change on to the agenda despite Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's reluctance.
But New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said there was growing momentum to deal with climate change.
He is confident that the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris next year will make progress in reaching a global agreement on reducing carbon emissions.
The agreement between China and the United States last week to seriously address the issue has given impetus to talks on the matter. US President Barack Obama has followed that up by pledging $US3 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) speaks as New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 20, 2014.

As the economy's been recovering it is starting to become a more top of mind issue. You've seen some quite strong commitments, you know, for President Obama here. In the end you've still got to get the Congress to actually agree to giving him the $US3 billion for his climate fund but I'm fairly confident myself that climate change will just have a slightly higher profile over the next 12 to 18 months," Mr Key said.
Mr Key met French President Francois Hollande this morning at the G20 meeting and he said the two men discussed climate change given Paris is hosting the UN climate change summit next year.
He signalled New Zealand will be allowed some leeway around emissions from farming given food production is so important to feeding the world.
Mr Key said New Zealand farmers must be held accountable and currently they pay for emissions through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
"But there's no point in just putting a tax on them when they can't change. But as soon as we can give them options, and the science and technology we are developing like DCDs is an example of that, then we would expect them to comply. But we can't just put them out of business to see, you know, another part of the world have that economic activity pop up because that doesn't solve the issues of climate change," Mr Key said.
Mr Key said with the largest economies taking leadership on climate change, he expected there would now be movement towards an agreement on reducing emissions next year.
He said with many countries feeling stronger economically, the time had now come to increase attention on climate change.
"We're starting to see the US demonstrating underlying economic strength and it's feeling more confident about pushing an issue that it feels very strongly about," Mr Key said.
"There is a range of different views although I think there's a consensus view we need to deal with the issue. The question is really how you do that."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For today's show: Kranowitz

Busy day in our Providence studios as we welcome Jeremy Kranowitz, Ex-Dir of Sustainable America and our Boston-based co-host, Jack Gregg in for a great show on what it takes to build an organization that implements a strategic plan to raise consumer awareness around food sustainable food, fuel issues, and to support entrepreneurs working on start ups and technology to make our nation more efficient, resilient and sustainable.  What an awesome mission that is.  We can't wait.

Tune into WRNP 1320 on line to listen between 1-2p, EST, today, and then look for the show in our broadcast section of our main site,


Our future is a Sustainable America.


Food is fuel. The consumption of food and fossil fuels are inextricably linked. Their production is nearing capacity, and shortages in both are a very real near term possibility. Without a concerted effort at all levels to separate the two—and to develop solutions to agricultural and energy shortcomings—we will be faced with a global crisis.


As daunting as the outlook is, there is hope on the horizon. Sustainable America’s goal is to bring together like-minded groups to foster awareness through open dialog and educational outreach, and act as a catalyst for the development and funding of innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to the impending food/fuel crisis.
Thinking and working together we can cultivate the change that fuels our future as a Sustainable America.



Jeremy Kranowitz is Executive Director of Sustainable America, implementing its strategic plan to raise consumer awareness around sustainable food and fuel issues, and to support entrepreneurs working on these issues to make our nation more efficient, resilient and sustainable. Prior to Sustainable America, Jeremy worked for a decade at The Keystone Center on the nation’s toughest energy and environmental issues as a mediator, facilitator, and educator. Jeremy worked for the Izaak Walton League on a clean air campaign on behalf of hunters and fishers, and helped launch Forest Trends, an international sustainable forestry non-profit. He also worked for five years at McKinsey & Co in its environment practice, working with Fortune 500 companies. He has an MS in Environmental Science and BA in Social Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, and an MPA in Environmental Policy from New York University.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Utilities Are Making it Cheaper to Drive Electric Cars

This is a major step forward in the use of EV's.  First, we need to make charging convenient and cheap (particularly as we see, at least right now, gas prices falling).  With that, then we can eliminate much of the consumer's range anxiety and offer a driving experience not just as pleasant, but more pleasant than using fossil fuel.  While saving them money and weekly/daily stops at gas stations.

We commend these states and commend all of you who buy and use plug-ins and EV's.

Some Utilities Are Making it Cheaper to Drive Electric Cars


Some utility companies are starting to encourage consumers to make the switch to plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). JEA, a utility company in northeastern Florida, recently began offering to its nearly half a million household and business electricity customers a rebate of up to $1,000 for the purchase or lease of a plug-in electric vehicle. That's a lot of cash toward buying a car that is already significantly cheaper to fuel than a conventional gas guzzler.

Recently, Georgia Power, the largest utility in the peach state, announced it will invest$12 million in a pilot program through which it will offer its residential customers incentives of $250 (and up to $500 for businesses) if they install certain types of EV chargers. The utility also now offers special electricity rates for EV drivers and plans to install 50 public charging stations. The company also provides a strong EV web sitefor prospective and current EV owners.

In Michigan, Consumers Energy currently offers a reimbursement of up to $2,500 to help customers cover the purchase, installation, and wiring of a Level 2 EV charging station. If you're an interested customer, act quickly because the program will likely expire at the end of this year, and only 2,500 households are eligible.

San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDGE) offers two electricity rate options specifically for EV owners. One uses a separate meter for the EV, and the other uses the existing meter to provide a combined reduced rate for EV charging and typical household use. Both plans calculate the price of electricity based on the time of day you choose to charge your car. Through these 'time of use' programs, SDGE expects to encourage customers to "limit daytime usage of electricity, when demand for electricity is highest."

According to the Edison Electric Institute, there were at least 23 electric utilities around the US that were offering EV specific rates at the end of 2013.

Some utility companies and agencies are way ahead (and others way behind) in promoting EVs. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is working to catch up by holding technical conferences on a number of EV topics, including electricity rate design for EV drivers, demand response programs, and grid planning (this is wonky but important stuff). Ideally, they will accept public comment and create regulatory changes that will get Massachusetts utilities into the pro-EV mix in the near-term.

According to a 2014 report by the Edison Electric Institute, customers are more likely to trust their local utility than the US Department of Energy for information about EVs, demonstrating that utilities are a crucial ally in today's EV market. In addition to encouraging EV programs for customers, EEI has also requested that each of its member utilities spend 5% of their annual fleet purchase budgets on plug-in vehicles, including electric forklifts. Companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company in Portland are already moving in this direction, with the recent unveiling of the first electric hybrid drivetrain Class 5 truck and battery powered lift systems on bucket trucks, which eliminate the need for trucks to idle at work sites.

Environmental advocates have a long history of going to battle with utilities (and industry associations like EEI) on issues related to dirty energy sources and energy efficiency programs. Just this past summer, several Florida-based utilities presented testimony to the Florida Public Service Commission arguing they should be allowed to roll back energy-efficiency goals, and environmental groups -including the Sierra Club-- have been pushing back. These fights will surely continue.

However, EVs offer an opportunity for agreement and collaboration among strange bedfellows. More electricity used by customers is desirable for utility companies -even those where electricity has been 'de-coupled' from total profits. And more consumers switching to plug-in electric cars is sought after by environmental groups that have done the math and found that EVs are a much cleaner choice compared to conventional vehicles, even using electricity to charge them based on today's energy sources. With more renewable sources of power, EVs become even cleaner over time.

Sierra Club's online EV Guide, now updated with a short online quiz, gives a wealth of information about EVs, including location-specific utility incentive programs that may be available where you plug in.

Madison Halloran contributed to this article.

Monday, November 17, 2014

U.S. and China reach historic deal on climate change

This happened while we were in Denver last week.  Of course, this is a very good, major step in reigning in emissions on a global scale.

Take a look at the details on the blueprint and work that will follow, including major carbon capture.  See the newest technology in action as these two behemoths look to reverse the worst of our air pollution and builds a clean-energy future.

The world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases have reached an unprecedented agreement to reduce such emissions, suddenly raising global hopes that we might solve climate change after all.

Obama and Xi Jinping
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a press conference in Beijing Nov. 12. (Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images)
The U.S. and China — Earth's two largest economies and top two emitters of greenhouse gases — just revealed a historic, game-changing agreement to fight climate change. In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, President Obama and President Xi Jinping committed to dramatic reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions that could loosen decades of gridlock in global climate talks.
On the final day of Obama's three-day visit to China, he and Xi made the following pledges:
  • The U.S. will cut its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels before the year 2025. That will double the current pace of U.S. emissions cuts, from 1.2 percent annually during the 2005-2020 period to between 2.3 and 2.8 percent annually during 2020-2025.
  • China will peak its carbon emissions by 2030, marking the first time the No. 1 carbon-emitting country has agreed to set a date for such a target. China will also increase the non-fossil fuel portion of its total energy usage to 20 percent by the same year.
This is a big deal. Not only does it herald the largest-ever emissions cuts from the planet's top two emitters of carbon dioxide — which alone could put a dent in climate change — but it also opens the door to far more possibilities at next year's United Nations climate talks in Paris. Many countries have been reluctant to limit their own CO2 output without stronger commitments from the U.S. and China, but Obama and Xi say their newly revealed agreement should put such arguments to rest.
"As the world's two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change," Obama said Wednesday. "We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious — all countries, developing and developed — to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year."
U.S. and Chinese leaders have long pointed to each other to justify their own inaction on climate change, but today's announcement could transform that dynamic in one fell swoop, says Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "For too long it's been too easy for both the U.S. and China to hide behind one another," Perciasepe says in a statement. "People on both sides pointed to weak action abroad to delay action at home. This announcement hopefully puts those excuses behind us. We'll only avert the worst risks of climate change by acting together."
coal plant in China
About 70 percent of China's electricity still comes from coal, but that's poised to change. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The ultimate goal for the U.S., according to the White House, is emissions cuts "on the order of 80 percent by 2050." Much of that will be based on existing efforts to rein in CO2, including energy-efficiency measures, vehicle fuel-economy rules, and the EPA's plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants. But the deal with China also features a package of new joint initiatives, including:
  • More investment in the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which was created in 2009 by Obama and Xi's predeccesor, Hu Jintao. The deal extends CERC's mandate for five more years, renew funding for three existing research tracks (building efficiency, clean vehicles and advanced coal technology) and launch a new track on the interaction of energy and water.
  • Creating a major carbon capture and storage project in China that "supports a long-term, detailed assessment of full-scale sequestration in a suitable, secure underground geologic reservoir." The U.S. and China will match funding for the project, and seek additional outside funding. 
  • Pushing for cuts in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigerants. The deal will boost cooperation on phasing out HFCs, including efforts to promote HFC alternatives and shift government procurement toward climate-friendly refrigerants.
  • Launching a new initiative to help cities in both countries share tips on using policy and technology to encourage low-carbon economic growth. This will kick off with a bilateral "Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit" to feature best practices and set new goals.
  • Promoting trade in "green goods," including low-carbon infrastructure and energy-efficiency technologies. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will lead a three-day business development mission in China next April.
  • More U.S. help with China's efficiency and clean-energy goals, such as expanded cooperation on smart grid development and a U.S.-Chinese commercial agreement on a "first-of-its-kind" 380-megawatt concentrating solar power plant in China.
Both countries' commitments are big news, but China's are especially momentous given that country's huge population and heavy reliance on coal for electricity. The agreement will require China to add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of zero-emissions electricity generation by 2030, according to the White House, including both renewable and nuclear energy. That's more than all of China's current coal-fired power plants can generate, and it's close to the entire U.S. capacity for electricity generation.
"Today's announcement is the political breakthrough we've been waiting for," says Timothy E. Wirth, vice chair of the United Nations Foundation and former U.S. State Department official under President Bill Clinton. "If the two biggest players on climate are able to get together, from two very different perspectives, the rest of the world can see that it's possible to make real progress."
For more details, see the countries' joint statement about their agreement.

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